November 16, 2001

Potentially Powerful

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There have been many hip-hop artists coming out of the woodwork for the past couple of months, some quite rotten, some with a substantial amount of potential. Petey Pablo is the standout: his music is full of potential, which he has immediately delivered on his first album, Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry. I haven’t heard a new style quite like this since Nelly’s Country Grammar, and I certainly haven’t ever heard this style in a Southern rapper.

Pablo has been adamant about maintaining his sincerity and honesty on this album, refraining from rap lyrics that center around murder, money, and cars, all things he never had growing up in Greenville, North Carolina. And he delivers his promise full force. The lyrics on this album are true to his feelings, and are nothing like the lyrics that we hear all too often from the West and East Coast producers.

The track “Raise Up” has been played on radio stations since this past summer, and stations in NYC love to play out songs that were supposedly immune from being played out. They have failed with “Raise Up,” a song that has so much power and sub-woofer flare that it is impossible to refrain from playing it on your newly installed rears.

The best song on the album, “I,” is so fast and electrifying that it forces the listener to learn the lyrics. My friends and I used to love walking down 8th Avenue trying to freestyle, or at least playing off Biggie’s lyrics. Petey is definitely a new challenge for us. Pablo’s lyrics often make no sense even if you put your stereo on slow-down mode, and some of the things he is saying could not possibly be real words. Most of them probably are not, but the lyrics that are comprehensible are hilarious, and the flow and strong accompanying base make up for the inconsistencies.

Whoever said rap had to have lyrics that all made sense? After all, the only two men that could do that are gone: Smalls and Shakur. Some people would argue that a preference for reality in lyrics should compromise pace and flow. To an extent this is true, but Pablo is able to have such a fast flow (not to say that his voice, a mix of DMX depth and Juvenile slur, doesn’t help) that the neglect of completeness in his lyrics is insubstantial. However, many of his songs do have strong messages that are unique and understandable.

“Do Dat” is a very powerful song that strikes deep at rap. “I can write a song without ice, bitches, and cars