Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A brief review of Prince Po & Oh No's "Animal Serum"

Prince Po, best known for being one half of the STILL underrated duo of Organized Konfusion along with Pharoahe Monch, and Oh No, mostly known for his collaborations with Alchemist, Roc Marciano, etc, linked up for this joint project. Speaking of Prince Po, although he's largely been MIA in hip hop over the years, he was still releasing a few albums and doing guest appearances, albeit very quietly, so it's good to see him back at work. Let's get this started shall we!

Release date- February 4, 2014


I know "Lamina Mures Intro" opens this, but the very energetic "Machine Rages" REALLY starts this album on a VERY hype note. Prince Po goes IN and he clearly hasn't lost one step. I'll likely have a lot more to say about that during this review.

The rest of this album is simply awesome, especially the collaborations. "U Already" (featuring Saafir and Rockness Monsta) is pretty tight. Saafir comes through with a good verse, but man Prince Po and Rockness Monsta (aka Rock of Heltah Skeltah) own this one. The "Fudge Pudge" lineup of Prince Po, Pharoahe Monch and O.C. brings a true throwback vibe to the fast paced "Smash", in which they do lyrically smash things (wait till you peep Pharoahe's closing verse). It doesn't stop there. "1st Word To What Was Said" is exactly what the title suggests and it's dope as hell. Be sure to take your time with this creativity, along with "Visionz", in which Prince Po takes you on a verbal journey through the mind. Nice. I really liked the apply titled "Keep Reachin" ("Far from finished, but above all I'm grateful", Prince Po says), as well as "Where U Eat", which is not the ordinary tale of "a place called home", but rather an eye opening, lyrical account of what happens when you don't take care of that very place.

After a quality first and middle portion of the album, things slow down a bit, basically towards the end with the last 3 songs (U, Starflyer Miles and Givitup). Lyrically these songs are on point, but the production brings them down just a little bit.

Overall, I'll go with a 4.5 star rating for this album, a clear AOTY (album of the year) candidate. Prince Po comes through lyrically and conceptually sharp and he hasn't lost one step (next up should be that long awaited Organized Konfusion reunion album with Pharoahe Monch). It's not the standard dope beats and rhymes, but every song just about serves a purpose and it's definitely not something you would hear on the radio today, which is sad, but that's the case with today's hip hop landscape. Superb job and a strong recommendation to check this out.

What I'm also going to start doing is a "running tally" of the year's best albums. We'll begin with this "Animal Serum" album, along with two prior ones I already covered.

1. Prince Po & Oh No - Animal Serum [4.5 stars]
2. Ray West & O.C. - Ray's Cafe [4 stars]
3. Step Brothers (Alchemist & Evidence) - Lord Steppington [4 stars]

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