On paper, this is a bad idea. Legendary Lyricist Percee-P heading out West to get his Madvillain on? At the same time, it’s moronic to dismiss the first real album from the guy who gave us “Lung Collapsing Lyrics” and stole the show on “Yes You May”, so I attempted to shrug-off any preconceived ideas about how this project might turn out. The result? Good and terrible. With all due respect, I can admit that Madlib has made some great tracks over the years – but he’s also made a bunch of horrible shit. Luckily, he’s delivered the closest thing to a “conservative” Madlib production since the Lootpack album on most songs, and has employed some dusty drums for the Rhyme Inspector to get loose over.
The main problem lies in the fact that many of the verses here are either old or reworked bars which were probably written to “Funky Drummer”, and as such just don’t seem to slot in all that well over the blunted bomb shelter sound. On a couple of occasions, you might be forgiven for thinking you’re listening to some sloppy, homemade “blend” CD that some stoner has done on his laptop. When it all gels together, though, there are still some great moments for longtime Perc fans. “Man To Praise” lays down his extended history in the rap game, “Legendary Lyricist” is straight-up raw raps and drums (complete with some quality pimp talk), while “The Lady Behind Me” offers a sincere take on the tried-and-trusted “love for a woman as a metaphor hip-hop” scenario. But for every winning moment, there are two that lose. Appearances from pretentious windbag Aesop Rock and one of the Jurrassic 5 guys may induce nausea, and the less said about the mess that is “Raw Heat”, the better.
Maybe I’m expecting too much from Perc. It could be said that he hasn’t really advanced his verbal technique since the early nineties, but it could be argued with equal conviction that he was ten years ahead of his time in 1992. Would an album of tracks from Minnesotta, P Brothers, Pete Rock and Show been enough to elevate Perserverance to classic status? Maybe. At least the Stones Throw connection will help expose this Bronx Bomber to a larger audience, and with any luck we’ll get another album from “The Man To Praise” that’s more befitting of his legacy.
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