What possesses rappers to drop their full-length albums as a free download? There's arguments that can be made about new business models in the music industry, blah blah blah, but my theory with Prof's excellent King Gampo, recently made available for no money through his Bandcamp page, is that he wants to make sure everyone in the audience knows it really well before the CD-release party. Prof's live shows have always been a display of collective energy, and I can already imagine hearing a whole crowd of people singing along to the album's many instances of catchy hooks and punchy quips. The Stophouse rapper's elastic voice covers a lot of ground, gliding from goofy to aggressive to thoughtful and everywhere in between over the course of a full 16 tracks, but he maintains a light-hearted irreverence with every line that manages to make this one of the most fun albums to come out of the often heavy Minneapolis scene.
- Opener "Gampo" begins the album with a sneering "mmmm fuck you" and a quintessential Prof line ("You can find me stiff like a samurai on a llama ride on a waterslide getting sodomized") over congas and twangy guitars, all with a chorus that is completely infectious.
- "Yeah Buddy" is proof positive of Prof's innate ability at picking beats, turning Chickenbone's banger into a celebratory song about "popping bubbly on old folks" that could not have been written by anyone else who would've tried to tackle the same track.
- "Myself" is probably the darkest song on the album, but showcases Prof's unique take on difficult subject matter. The song remains loose and contains one of the best hooks, but it also shows off his strength in using negative space to express, and Cory Grindberg's deep synth compositions speak as strongly as the lyrics.
- "Daughter" with Brother Ali is one of the deepest and best tracks on the record, but the other collaboration on the album, the hyphy-inspired "James Bond Blimp", with MTV Riff Raff, wins out between the two if they're compared. Prof doesn't typically need guests on his albums because his voice has such a range of character that he can handle a full length himself without getting old or stretching himself too thin, but "James Bond Blimp" has such a fun energy between the two rappers that's hard to ignore. This song reminds me of Prof's classic "Rocketman" with a pre-fame Yelawolf, in that the guest was picked more out of what the combined charisma would bring to the song rather than what attention the blogs would give it.
PROF plays a CD-release show with Blueprint, Soulcrate Music, and Get Cryphy DJs on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, at FIRST AVENUE. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m.
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