“I am the magistrate, new face of this rap game, giving classic pieces of art, word to my last name.”
At the time that my brother was attending VCU in Richmond, Virginia, he came home to New York feenin’ for two things: pizza and Hip Hop. We would have listening sessions in my room for the latest album that dropped, from Lupe Fiasco, to Jay-Z, to Nas. This time around though, with a mouth full of pizza, he dropped one track on me and simply said: “You gotta hear this dude.”
It was Poe Picasso’s 40 Days, 40 Nights, a song that uses a strong visual metaphor to relate the current state of Hip Hop to the story of Noah while illustrating Poe’s intentions to purge the entire industry in order to rebuild Hip Hop to it’s former glory.
Needless to say, I was interested.
I listened to the rest of Exhibit B: Manifest Destiny, the mixtape where 40 Days, 40 Nights can be found, and then downloaded his first release, Exhibit A: The Real Hip Hop Project. As I listened, I realized that Poe was a product of Hip Hop’s era of socially conscious wordsmiths, street poets, and lyrical masters – an era that made me fall in love with Hip Hop in the first place. He is able to draw a very real connection between a rough life growing up in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, and the overall political and social problems in New York City and beyond that have consequentially lead to the unfortunate circumstances of not just his hood, but those worldwide.
This week, Poe released Reformation, an aptly chosen title for his third release. While Poe’s previous releases focused on the decomposition of Hip Hop through a lens of social awareness and accountability, Reformation is more about the reconstruction, rehabilitation, and transformation of Hip Hop music as a whole into something that is not just dumbed down for the sake of radio airplay, but is a powerful force that sheds much needed light on common social, economic, and political problems that go unchanged. Poe also has no problem sharing his sentiments that New York, as the birthplace of Hip Hop, has fallen off. He intends to start this reformation right in his own back yard by taking what the original innovators of Hip-Hop left behind and bringing it to the next level for his generation.
I’ll be honest in saying that I personally didn’t think the production on Reformation was as strong as his previous two releases, and it lacked the vitality that he brought to his other projects. That being said, I think the lyrics and overall tone of this mixtape remains intact while keeping the spirit of his message consistent. The free download includes an audio book in .PDF format that allows you to play the songs and read the lyrics. I appreciated that approach because I honestly miss the days of CD booklets that laid out the lyrics.
Poe has already proved himself to be a viable wordsmith, poetic, and intelligent, so I’m looking forward to the main course where I can see what he can really do in the booth with stronger production and original beats.
Until then, check out his other projects on his Bandcamp page here: http://poepicasso.bandcamp.com/
And check out the video for his song, Inspiration, below.