There’s stupid rapper names, and then there’s PHZ-Sicks. Pronounced ‘physics’, surely there are still some smart, yet respectable names left in the rap repertoire to help listeners find music online without difficulty. All the top emcees have opted for simple monikers: Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, Drake – meaning that PHZ-Sicks has already hindered his progress in terms of accessibility and memorability. Which is a shame, because he has engineered a record here with enough velocity to force his way in to the minds of many rap fans, despite never really dropping any joules. With all the Physics-based puns out of my system, it’ll surprise you to find out that there is next to no mention of Physics, or any other science on this highly polished effort from the VA resident. So if PHZ-Sicks isn’t on some scientific flex, what exactly does he rap about on “The Moment”?
To be fair, there is a bit of everything on here that while leaning on more commercial sensibilities with the featured singers, does maintain authenticity. What’s most remarkable about this release is just how polished the whole thing sounds – PHZ-Sicks clearly takes his game seriously. Listening to “The Moment” it’s clear PHZ-Sicks has spent some time researching what makes a good record: cohesion, catchy hooks, and at ten tracks deep, it’s a succinct yet never short affair.
Lyrically he isn’t mind-blowing like his name may suggest, but with a flow not unlike Kendrick Lamar that is never too predictable the way it switches up at random moments, this proves a worthy listen and another example of the gems that can be discovered on Bandcamp these days. If you don’t believe me, listen to “Brim Low”, a guaranteed radio hit that sees Alison Carney turn what is a banger in to a full-blown firework display. “Love Scene III” has a Timbaland quality to the production that is dominated by Scolla’s vocal performance. Scolla is joined by the aforementioned Alison Carney and PHZ-Sicks on a strong piece of R&B that admittedly sounds out of place in the centre of the album – it would have made a good closing song. The clear influence of Kendrick Lamar (which isn’t a bad thing) shows through on “The Constant” with PHZ-Sicks’ playful delivery. In terms of rapping technique, it’s the clear highlight on a record that isn’t bogged down in being just hip hop.
Production ranges from quirky to more formulated club pieces that are heavier on thumps and whomps than Super Mario. One for the gamers there, and even though this is a professionally crafted “moment” – this is just like the Nintendo franchise in its crisp, meticulously put together execution that although not a classic like Super Mario Galaxy, is a strong example of the medium – call it a Super Mario Sunshine. Considering PHZ-Sicks is under many hip hop radars, it’s noteworthy how much potential he has here even if he never comes across as a rapper that’s “got bars.” This is PHZ-Sicks you’ll almost certainly enjoy.