Prince Poetry, who was Pharoahe Monche’s better half in the influential rap duo Organized Konfusion, has abbreviated his moniker for his solo career, and it would be nice to think he appropriated “po” to distance himself from the overground hip-hop obsession with money. Taking up where OK left off, he’s more a connosieur of everyday stress, and money is often at the root. “There’s a war at the shopping mall,” goes the chorus to “It’s Goin Down,” and he doesn’t mean a bargain sale. A ghetto philosopher who predicted the rise of gangsta in 1991 and didn’t like what he foresaw, the Queens native is an interested observer who tries to stay above the fray.
Mature is the new hard. Po can walk away from weed because he’s a “grown-ass man,” and on the anti-binge-drinking “Meet Me at Tha Bar,” he lets rapper J-Zone play the party animal who ends the night puking on his Nikes. Po’s “calico flow” demands to be turned up loud, and for once the production justifies the volume. Aided by cutting-edge mixmasters Danger Mouse and Madlib, Po revels in tasty old-school guitar licks and lots of percussion. It’s a huge sound that nevertheless goes down easily. Po’ boys can be slick, too.
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