Can the son of a classically-trained actor compete in the hip-hop game? Pizon has proven so. Beginning his career with an after-school cipher session, Pizon has progressed from a by-standing hip-hop fan to organizing his own label, La Scala Entertainment. Now, taking some time away from his longtime crew, The Fam, he is ready to tell his own stories through rhyme with the debut album, I Am Hip-Hop.
When one makes the bold statement declaring “I Am Hip-Hop,” you already know somebody is gonna have something to say about that. And when one prefaces that statement by saying the discussion of Hip-Hop is about oneself, well then, its just fair game. Such is the case with this album. The perspective of this album is a monologue of sorts, trapped in the mind of Pizon. Luckily for me, I’ve figured out the solution to get out: using my head.
The first three cuts from the album, Homegirls, Know Ya Role (skit), and Say Goodbye represent everything that’s wrong with hip-hop culture and rap music. These three tracks are concerned about the same theme: girls and getting head. I tried to let my objective hip-hop ear swallow these lyrics without biasing my opinion too much. And yet, I found myself caught up in the critique. While Homegirls explained how to get Pi’s juices flowing (“I want you to suck the Z out my name, that’s how you turn Pi on”- you can’t even front, lyrically this line is be respect simply for its wit), while Say Goodbye clarified the importance of good credit (I’m everywhere you wanna be, a veteran at sex Hoes take hard dick, but they don’t take American Express). Production-wise, I’m feelin the contemporary big-band sound in Homegirls and the careful use of samples in Say Goodbye; yet it’s clear to me from these track that I need to be an around the way girl and not a homegirl. As for Know Ya Role, I have to admit that I loved this skit because I can appreciate its realness. Everybody has heard/overheard/been in a conversation like this. . . .
Give It Up featuring Timid, EJ, and Aday is a head-nodder and another favorite. The simple production formula is the key to this track; this is the direction that hip-hop producers need to move. None of that extra synthesized shyt, just strings, kick, and bass- that’s all you need, let your rhymes do the rest. Drastic Measures featured an excellent demonstration of Pizon’s flow, although I’m plenty already tired of the sexual themes. Streets Never Change and I Feel You are decent efforts, average both lyrically and musically.
On Sittin on the Bench and Four Letters, Pizon shows his deeper, more emotional side. Sittin’ On the Bench featuring Nashirk is a paternally-biographical track as Pizon puts himself in his father’s shoes and tells the senior’s story. The production on this track is inadequate in comparison to the story; an unfamiliar listener would have difficulty understanding the backstory because Pizon still raps in his own voice and the hook pulls the song apart instead of uniting the verses. However, Pizon’s flow is tight. And you can’t really knock a track with such brutal honesty; the same could be said for Angel Wings (Bonus Track), a tribute to Pizon’s then-girlfriend whose life was cut short by a plane crash. Although the mixing isn’t up to par, these tracks are the heartbeat of this album.
After all the critiques, I must admit that this is a fairly balanced album, almost too perfectly. Pizon has followed a basic rap formula- three ho tracks, three emotional tracks, and some other stuff. Personally, I really just needed one track for the ladies. If you’re gonna seduce me with a deep gravely Barry White voice (actually more DMX-esque only smoother and without the Tourette’s-inspired staccato) then you’ve got to follow it with some “Can’t Get Enough.” But if a third of your album is dedicated to dick-sucking (sorry I just can’t sugar-coat it any better than that), then you’re going to lose some of your audience.
While, there are some lyrical gems among the roughs of this album (If you got no vision then you already in prison- I Am Hip-Hop), Pizon really puts himself out there by boldly stating that he has redefined what it means to be an emcee, what it means to be hip-hop; when in all reality, this album perpetuates the long withstanding stereotypes.
Is this what Hip-hop has to offer?