Sunday, January 19, 2014

Allen Poe - Pocket Full of Ohms (Review & Free Download)

Allen Poe delivers a fun, honest, thought provoking album with "Pocket Full of Ohms."

On “Old Street,” a calming bass line and smooth piano sample opens the track, as Allen Poe reminisces about his time growing up. He remembers girls he was infatuated with, playing hoops, new friendships and being unable to replace his best friends. Midway through the track, Poe asks, “College, job or drugs, say what’s your choice mane?” This comes before he speaks on his idea of heaven being “nice.” Emma Shaheen provides vocals on the hook, which adds to the track’s laid back, relaxing vibe.

On the last verse, the rapper finds himself remembering his deployment, getting married and having two children. There is a subtle sense of resentment when Poe says he wishes there were no hands on the clock. Is that resentment or simply being human? I sometimes wish I could stop time too. The track concludes on a strong, hopeful note where the rapper remembers his summers as a youngster and when his mother played the role of both Mother and Father. In the last line, Poe says “I was fond of our bond and I recall it gladly.” It is no mistake that the last word spoken on the track is “peace.”

                On the next track, “For the Love,” Poe says in his first verse: “I always add a lesson, before I leave I say peace cuz that’s my presence.” On this track, it becomes clear that Allen Poe is in love with his craft. The beat is reminiscent of songs of old, without a hard hitting drum but with soulful keys and what sounds like a flute. The beat is chilled, as is Poe’s delivery. It’s effortless, both the music behind the words and the words themselves. Fittingly, the last word of this track is “love.”

                All of the beats on this album bring it back and at the same time push it forward. With a plethora of producers lending their talents, it can’t be understated that there is a definite sense of continuity with the music. That’s a skill Nas would be envious of. Poe chooses beats that tell a story as well as his words do. My favorite beat on the album is “Leave Ya Mind,” because of the ill keys and the intriguing vocal sample in the background. The beat on “Make Motivation” is a classic boom bap beat tipping it’s hat to The Bomb Squad and Diamond D. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a comparison, instead, it is clear that Poe has an understanding of the history of this music, as do the producers he works with. After all, how can you know where you’re going to take this if you don’t know where it’s been?

                On “Live From The Pub,” Poe gets busy. He states that he is sober, and it is apparent that it is only for the moment. Further in the song, he admits his affinity for Red Stripe. The beat is jazzy. The cadence is upbeat as he keeps it drama free. By this point in the album, it is clear that Poe is all about good times and good music. While he can be introspective and thought provoking, it is clear on this song that he just wants you to have fun. He wants to get you thinking, but he admits on this track that it is also his philosophy to get the listener “live.” Leaving the choice of what that means up to you, you are free to do whatever you want to do to get to that point.

                I have two complaints about this album. One, he should have released this album in the summer. It has a very summer time vibe to it. But maybe that’s the intelligent move to make. Poe gives you this in the middle of winter to let it marinade, so you can enjoy it even more when the summer weather arrives. It just feels like a warm weather album. Two, there’s too many features. I feel like I’d rather hear other perspectives when I am well acquainted with the primary artist first. But don’t get me wrong, everybody who appears on this album comes correct, they’re all dope. It just feels like too many cooks in the kitchen.

                All in all this is a quality release and warrants much replay value. Allen Poe is definitely talented. If you enjoy smooth flows, unique storytelling and filthy, vintage sounding beats, this is for you. If you enjoy music that makes your body move and inspires your mind’s expansion, this is for you. Poe wears many hats on this album: bard, story teller, party starter, etc. This release reminds me of a time when I heard a certain line and had to press rewind right away. Now days I just move the mouse and click. When listening to this album, you’ll be moving the mouse a lot.

Some highlights:

“Peace if you relate and stay in your course, I’m sayin’ it raw”

“I lost religion to know God’s will”

“Exact science from chaos”

“If it weren’t fun to me, I’da just stop”

“You know I ain’t askin’ a lot, you know I know what I got”

“I feel the earth in my chest”

“Now that we all in the building, I thought that I would tell ya, I flow to rhyme to open minds like an umbrella”

“Scrubs get their feelings hurt, and start actin’ stupid. They keep it up and get the action movin’, be like Stockton in the post guarding Ewing.”

“It’s the truth, I’m givin’ to you, when I Killer Mike the whole El-P, I expect that you would Run The Jewels”

To download "Pocket Full of Ohms" via DJBooth, click here.

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