Phonte’s not the only former Little Brother member going stag on an album this year. With the release of Dirty Pretty Things, the levelheaded Rapper Big Pooh also makes his solo status known. In dropping this 18-track behemoth, Pooh crafts an expansive LP with mixed results.
When Dirty Pretty Things succeeds, it throttles the listener with gigantic soundscapes and cutthroat bars. Producer Kuddie Fresh gifts the Choklate-assisted “They Say” a smooth G-Funk soul, while the lugubrious keys on “Legendary Lullaby” allow Pooh to advise the kids on the world’s many vices: “N****s don’t care how we hurtin’ kids/all this bullshit we feed ‘em through the years/radio and fast food fuckin’ up they brains.” Pooh also provides some apt storytelling, as “5.13.11” accentuates the contentious dissolution of a relationship and its tragic ending: “Did you fuck him/Did you give him head?…. I adored you, as the candlelight flickers/in front of your pictures/I’ve got my hand on this Jim Beam and the other on a trigger.”
Dirty Pretty Things contains these bright spots; however, Pooh packs these tracks between other, more inconsequential tracks, which disrupt its fluidity as a long play. The disparate nature of these songs’ sounds (ranging from synthy club bangers like DK’s “Money Getter” to the soulful, BlackSoul-produced “Free” to the house music vibes of “Interdependent”) prevents the album from securing a cohesive theme. The tracks work well enough independent of one another, but fail at bridging the project as a whole. And the potent narration of Dirty Pretty Things’ strongest bars (as evidenced on the aforementioned “Legendary Lullaby” and “5.13.11”) lose their strength when sharing the same track listing as female-pandering cuts such as “Right With You” and “Around the World.”
That’s not to say that Pooh failed; he’s boastful (“Mr. So Ravishing/Mr. So Arrogant”) and hungry to succeed (“This is God-given/Self-driven”). In attempting to harness these emotions, he tends to overreach. A tightened, shorter album would’ve benefited the North Carolina MC. Yet, the greater power of Dirty Pretty Things is it keeps Big Pooh relevant and reminds fans that, despite the uneven ethos, the North Carolina MC still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Label: For Members Only | Producers: DJ Khalil, Nottz, DK, Focus…, King Karnov, Kuddie Fresh, Mass Prod., Family Biz Ent., Mo Heat, Sheldon Williams, Siege Monstrosity