Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stream/Download: Pro Era - PEEP: The aPROcalypse

Pro Era had started up their buzz machine over the course of 2012 with remarkable mixtapes from Joey Bada$$ (1999) and Capital STEEZ (AmeriKKKan Korruption), which can be downloaded for free at the given links. The 12 member group of impossibly young and endlessly talented NYC rappers are now ready to present their debut mixtape PEEP: The aPROcalypse. The tape, which was released on December 21 when the world did not in fact end, borrows it's style from the golden era of 90's rap. Unfortunately, the release has been marked by the tragic passing of Capital STEEZ, born Jamal Dewar, who apparently took his own life after tweeting "The end." in the opening hours of Christmas Eve. At only 19 years of age, the passing of Capital STEEZ is as heartbreaking as the passing of a young talent can be and is one that will sadly loom over the release.

Following the news, Joey and the remaining members of Pro Era remixed the mixtape cut "Like Water" in dedication to Dewar, renaming it "Like Water (R.I.P. Capital STEEZ)". On this opening track, you can hear that when Joey Bada$$ and Capital STEEZ got together there was no stopping them. The jazzy piano and stuttering rhythm of the cut adds a bit of A Tribe Called Quest flavor to the front of the tape. PEEP, however, is about displaying the talents of the whole crew and there are plenty of moments where the lesser known MCs are able to shine.

On "Wrecord Out", Nyck Caution and CJ Fly stand out with intriguing wordplay over a boom-bap beat from Chuck Strangers that tests the lower registers. "F a Rap Critic" is built around a sample of the Method Man line "F a rap critic who talk about it while I live it" and ironically serves as an easy critical favorite while verifying the crew's Wu-Tang Clan influence. They further explore where they pull their inspiration from on the funky "Vinyls", which introduces Dessy Hinds who is backed by STEEZ and Caution. "Natural" once again highlights Hinds and Caution, but this time they absolutely annihilate their verses with impressive finesse validating the track's title and utilizing it's arresting string-laden production.

"Last Cypher" is the posse track here, allowing eight members to spit over a slowly evolving rhythm. As far as rap songs that run over eight minutes go, you couldn't ask for one executed better than this. It is relatively guaranteed that your head with be nodding along with every passing second. It is another perfect example of how the group embraces old school east coast rap but puts a fresh spin on it.

Pro Era doesn't wallow in nostalgia but rejoices in it, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable experience. This tape almost acts as a lesson plan for kids too young to appreciate NYC hip-hop groups Mobb Deep or Black Moon. Even though they should be in that category themselves, they can spit fire with the best of 'em and have the vigor of a hip-hop rendition of 12 Angry Men. Even though it borrows so much from the past, there is something to say for just putting out a tape this solid with such confidence. I can't see getting sick of it any time soon. With each repeated spin, it becomes abundantly clear that it is one of the finest rap albums to survive 2012. Familiarize yourself with these up-and-coming MCs by snagging a free download here.

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