The Experienced Listener Presents: H.N.I.C., by Mr. Al Pete


The Experienced Listener Presents: The H.N.I.C, by Mr. Al Pete

Back in the days of the early Dirty South, MCs didn’t come with a plethora of fancy punchlines.  When they would snatch the mic, they would hold your attention by just telling you sumn you needed to hear.  Whether it be true stories of struggle or words of wisdom from the Bible, the conviction in the MC’s voice alone would put you in your place.  And an empty soul would walk away with a spiritual case of the itis. 

Enter Mr. Al Pete.  With a sincere sound that has been dearly missed in Southern hip hop, the Mr. puts Jacksonville, FL on the map with his mixtape, H.N.I.C. With a style that combines the likes of B.o.B. (less of the Andre, more of the Field Mob), Skinny DeVille and Rhymefest, Al Pete gives us thirty tracks of Southern-fried hip hop and soul… which means, obviously, I’m not even TRYNA break down each and every track.  I’m just going to give it straight to ya the way it comes to me— the style of Mr. Al Pete.

H.N.I.C. Mixtape

The mixtape is hosted by DJ KGB, who contributes heavily.  He remixes Rockin Me’, as Al Pete delivers this searing call-to-arms:

[Get down with the] Sounds of the revolution; Hell, we teamed up/

To clean the pollution, but their solution is/

Shut sh!t down; who the hell you think gon’ speak/

When we ain’t around; now these kids really following these/

Bozo clowns— there’s also rounds flyin’ in the hood/

So innocent humans dyin’ in the hood/

The book of Proverbs, silent in the hood/

Us conscious rappers fighting for the good/

We’ll snap our fingers and change it if we could/

But our voices are dumbed-down/

All of this dumb sound is found in stereos…/

And exploited in serials; radio, videos/

Sneakers and clothes and it’s affecting our culture/

A simple impose of what we call hip hop…/

It feels good to support what I believe in.  Based on that set alone, I feel obligated to keep this man’s mixtape in the changer.  …Aight, I don’t actually have a changer in my car; so, instead, it’ll be the only CD in rotation this week.

Disco Inferno is a testament to the production on this project.  Not only is the beat fire— smooth, low-key, kick thumpin’, nasty snare, creative hi-hat, DJ scratchin’ (hey, this joint feelin’ like a bastard track from ATLiens!!)— but anytime your ad libs come in sounding like a Super Saiyan Ape banging a mountainside, I’m turnin’ it up .  Al Pete demands full cooperation as he cranks the second verse:

Don’t be scared, just prepare for a cruise that’s crucial/

And suitable for churrins, teenagers, neighbors/

Gangstas pimps, hustlers and the thugs…/

All of the above without the shoves and the pushin/

My favorite part of the song is verse 3, because it summarizes the feeling you get from the entire mixtape.  Peep:

…And spread all kinda love, rushin through ya/

Faster than a Ninja, on Interstate 1/

On eastbound… Can’t complain on my sound /

Quite vital, so suck it up and maintain through/

Round Three; from coast to coast, I float and flow/

And dip so fast with the triple pressure…/

Let’s just say that I’m a hell of a human being/

That ping-pong words; boy, dis boy ‘xtreme/

Don’t mean to intervene, but the exit’s on ya right/

Hope ya ride was wild, fun, and outta sight/

It comes off like a title track— almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.  As you explore this mixtape, you discover that it’s a collection of dope beats and dope lyrics that comes right at you.  You can tell that Mr. Al Pete loves what he does, and it makes sense to call him “The Truth” because he keeps it that real. And at the end of things, there’s really not a lot complain about, just like the verse says.

At this stage in music, it’s hard for me to appreciate any MC who doesn’t use his platform to make a difference in the world.  Seriously, underpaid as I am, what do I look like spending money to hear an MC brag about himself.  But, if Rockin Me’ isn’t already enough, Al Pete makes it clear what side of the Force he’s on with the track Get Up; it might as well be part II to OutKast’s Git Up, Get Out.

 

Me, had to tell myself that I’m/

Worth more than the statistics they sayin’ ‘bout/

Black folks— specially bout Black males—/

We travelin’ black trails; Chasing the black tails/.

End up in that cell; in and outta jail/

But let me make this clear:  prevail I shall/

It’s Mr. Peter, the hope seeker, to the top speaker/

My dreams will never meet the Grim Reaper… And that’s word/

The hook samples James Brown’s Sex Machine, the part where the background sings, “Get on up”.  I’m born, raised, residing in Augusta, GA, so you already know…  *thumbs up*

Verses 2 & 3 on the track come by way of The IGive; I wanna highlight Verse 3 because this is the kinda talk I like to hear right here:

 

(Verse 3)

It’s time for action, ain’t no camera ain’t no acting

To capture, moment’s forsaken by you thereafter/

Still back there, poor in the gutter/

Do you hate your baby mother I sense you do not respect her/

And your children see you neglect them/

To raise to be somebody, so tell me how you expect them/

To progress, develop their intellect/

If you selling crack bottles to their best friend’s… momma/

 

…And I gotta tack this one on, just because I like it and you need to see it:

 

…Traumatized, see TV they dramatize/

All the cries of our people, exploitin should be a crime/

 

It’s good to know somebody out there remembers what the Dirty South once stood for.  It remains to be seen whether we’ll once again take up the mantle and represent the strength and uplift we once did…

I normally skip interludes on mixtapes… but Whiskey Pete Speaks might be THEE BEST SKIT EVER.  In it, Whiskey Pete, brother of Al Pete, tells of a trip to Turkey he takes with his friend Slim.  Slim is a Black man like him, 6-feet-or-more tall.  A Turkish man who speaks some English walks up to the pair, looks at Slim and says, “You [a] basketball player!”  The man then looks at Whiskey Pete and says, “You short; what do you do?”  TO which Whiskey replies:

“I don’t do SH!T, muthaf#cka; I’m the H.N.I.C.”

…CuLASSic  X-D

All that leads into a one-minute Al Pete freestyle called Beamin’.  Pete handles the track like a Grand Prix, as he gives us the setting from inside the studio:

Sandy on my left side; on my right is Annie/

She lookin’ like she okay; maybe cuz her Brandy is

Is working through her system, tickling her pancreas/

Them crankers kicking in, so she lookin’ like some scampi/

She see the most up close, now she lookin Bambi-ish…/

In my opinion, the various freestyles scattered across this mixtape represent a real “bonus” that sets this Southern MC apart.  Freestyling is one thing that the Dirty South is not known for.  Our elite MCs often avoid it due to personal preferences; they tend to be perfectionists who’d rather write out and revise their ideas… or not speak at all unless they have something significant to say.  And then, our more mainstream MCs do freestyle, but don’t say anything of significance when they spit— a few cute punchlines, some empty threats, some boasting, some shout outs…sometimes some random junk that has no meaning at all. With a cocky laugh [inserted here]  :-\

…Anyway, Mr. Al Pete manages to sit right in the middle, exhibiting the ability to freestyle [comfortably] and to                do it with average to above-average substance.

Speaking of substance, I started to quit on the song Nike vs. Adidas the moment I saw the title.  I find shoe and apparel discussion to be some of the most pointless, aimless chitter-chatter available in life.  At least, I did find that, until I heard Venny Dapadon and Mr. Al Pete take this normally superficial topic and make it significant.  First up, Dapadon, reppin’ Nike:

Nike vs. Adidas, a lion vs. a cheetah/

Nike grew up while Adidas stayed a fetus/

Run DMC bought ‘em out with leather jackets/

Told us Adidas was hot, what happened after that/

 

I was LOVIN the finish to this verse:

 

…But while ya’ll cats were snoozing/

MJ & Nike hooked up and made fusion/

I’d rather have a check comin’ in my mailbox/

Then to have three strikes on me, you locked up/

…C’mon.  That’s hella creative.  But then Al Pete comes back reppin Adidas with these points of interest:
Rockin Gazelles, I do it well/

Carrying old tradition from the days of LL, Fat Boys/

Even the ladies be lookin cool, look at Missy L/

Women with them stripes will make ya attitude swell/

The 4’s, the Y-3’s; did it up during summertime/

In the city, if you missed it what a pity/

Nike Air?  Sucks to be you, cuz when the three bars/

Lock a n!gga down, yo, memories of Swoosh/

And Michael J told the truth: “I only rocked it for the money”/

Loyal is longer, bruh; ten times stronger, cuz…/

What it becomes is a discussion of the influence of music and basketball on the hood and the role that money plays in it.  Profound enough to write a book on; relevant enough to be put into a seemingly simple song.  Well-thought, fellas.  Well thought.

On OutKast’s 1996 single Wheelz of Steel, Big Boi says, “As I sit in my b-boy stance…  with flip flops n socks… and sweatpants…  I’m finna enhance yo brain… check it out…”  Ever since that utterance, “flip flops n socks”” has become a Dirty South catchphrase, as we fast forward to 2011 and Al Pete’s single of the same name.  The chorus:

Sit on the porch and talk about/

How one day we’d rule the South/

Oh, we’d get grown have kids of our own/

And stop runnin’ the block in flip flops n socks/

I remember having those talks with my friends from the neighborhood; back then, the South seemed to represent the whole world.  It’s a song about growing up or, in Al Pete’s case, growing up too fast:

I was a young bumpkin, rushin for my dreams kinda fast/

Didn’t think that my dad was gone/

So when the bad was long, I had to grab the bone/

Yep, hold the throne down, still felt so sad and alone/

Stage one is taking control of a bad circumstance; but then, there’s always the coping mechanisms:

Started getting blunted every day, in every way/

Became trapped, ended up with baby on my lap/

Now look:  I’m in some crap, chose to wipe it up/

Now tighten up; now when the trouble come, just bite up it up/

Digest it with good thoughts, defecate the bullsh!t/

‘Gone wit my bad self…’/

A coming-of-age track, but we need our coming-of-age tracks.  Especially when they involve moving in a positive direction… and a femcee who ain’t benig slutty.  Props to the Grown Folk Entertainment featured artist for holding it down (anybody get her name?).

As if this mixtape didn’t have enough bangers, enter Respect My Gangsta, an anthem featuring Al Pete and the Famili.  I don’t normally like beats with heavy synths, but the producer went in on this one, with just enough to keep me interested and, at the same time, give the MCs room to shine.  On this track, Mr. Pete shows he can do the punchlines just like the other youngins:

They not like us, that’s why they don’t like us, it’s no secret/

Cuz I come before ‘em like a prefix/

I make you feel the burn; lift ya feet like a knee lift/

She tryin’ for the ball, so she good on her defense/

If your bars are ill, then my sh!t a treatment/

They don’t want the beef, all a sudden they all vegans/

Bitin’ my style, like these n!ggas is teethin’/

I’ll shut ya lights out; Good Evenin’/

Now we even… yeah/

And now, as I draw to a close, a little in medias res…

I first heard Mr. Al Pete by way of my Jacksonville homegirl Byrd, otherwise known as LadyByrd Burgess, the sexy voice of the blogtalk radio show LadyByrd Live.  The song that introduced me to him was The Party Starter.  I was lying across the couch when it came on; once that snare kicked in, I’m sitting straight up.  A few seconds later, I’ve got the screwface on as the bass decides to get up to get down on me.  And then Mr. Al Pete gets to the chorus, and it’s on some:

ZUH-zuh-zuh-zuh-zuh…  ZUH-zuh-zuh…  ZUH-zuh-zuh-zuh-zuh-zuh-zuh

?!?!?… And here I’m thinkin’ Southern MCs had gotten too hasiddity for the funk!  But NOT MR. AL PETE!!!  It was that experience that put Mr. Al Pete in mind, and once The Experienced Listener was created, the funk demanded that I do a review on this cat.  SUPPORT THIS ARTIST.  The South is trying to get back to its roots, and I see this cat as being an essential element for raising the standard for Southern MCs.

…Did I just say ‘essential element’?  And ‘standard’?  Somebody kill me; the classroom is infecting mind…

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One response to “The Experienced Listener Presents: H.N.I.C., by Mr. Al Pete

  1. Pingback: H.N.I.C. Mixtape Review by The Experienced Listener! «·

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