Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Pill – Hear Somebody Comin’

All-Hip-Hop Thursday continues with a feller that it would be fair to say we quite like…


Pete Baran: The backing has a lovely dynamic between the sirens of the chorus to the sinister faux harpsichord, which is a perfect bed to a thoroughly enjoyable rap. Perhaps not as impressive as “Trap Goin’ Ham”, but two tracks in and I think I’ve found a Southern hip-hop star to believe in. And it may just be me, but isn’t it nice to get a track where the feature artist does all the work?

Ian Mathers: More sirens, more braggadocio, more prowess. Maybe it’s just not my thing, but I continue to be a little impressed and not at all moved by Pill’s work.

Michaelangelo Matos: He’s exuberant without being the least bit excitable, completely in his element, and the word-association pauses (“Thinking with his dick out–fuck ya”; “Greenery in the produce and the trunk–farmer”) have real zest. Every time I put this on he keeps me all the way to the end, even if I think the track is pretty rudimentary. Harpsichords are pretty cool as a rule, though.

Erick Bieritz: The music of “Hear Somebody Comin’” (sirens! Harpsichords?) is as smartly assembled as in “Glass” and “Trap Goin’ Ham”, but Pill is a little sloppier this time. Despite his claim to the contrary, he seems to have a little trouble keeping up with the track. The song is still overflowing with ideas, even if they aren’t channelled as well as in his previous releases.

Alfred Soto: “Trap Goin’ Ham” remains a high watermark, but he’s so in love with his own momentum that he gets by with sampled harpsichord and police siren like he’s Raekwon in ’95.

Martin Skidmore: There’s a real tension to this, and a soundtracky feel, especially with the frequent use of sirens. Tha Bizness give it a sinister mood, like something from a gangsta horror film (have there been any of those?), and Pill’s lyrics add to a paranoid atmosphere. Excellent, and more evidence that he isn’t a flash in the pan.

John Seroff: Here’s a sad sign of how the bar’s been lowered for breaking rappers: Pill’s long-form multi-bar rapping and pitter-patter syncopation, essentials that would have been required just to be taken seriously in 1990, put him in the “hot talent” pole position in the sloppy Wacka Flocka/Soulja Boy 2010 landscape. That said, so what if he’s not remaking the wheel? And so what if Pill gets tripped up in the occasional ill-considered colon:crew grocery bag line (“Antwone Fission”, “Pillton and Bradley”, “BOOZER”). It’s still a pleasure to listen to hip hop that’s not about hip hop but is hip hop — bass, sirens, an old-fashioned Halloween-y hook — but mostly just complex wordplay, clearly enunciated. Pill is still patiently waiting for a breakthrough single. I don’t think “Somebody Comin’” is gonna be the one that grabs the brass ring, but the evidence is mounting that a hit is comin’ too.

Jordan Sargent: “Hear Somebody Comin'” finds Pill slightly dabbling in some of the lyrical pitfalls that populate contemporary rap, namely grocery bag punchlines and poop jokes. Those small trip-ups aside, the song finds Pill locked in and snarling, but instead of relying solely on his charisma and presence, he uses those attributes to amplify his writerly ambitions, flashing more impressive internal rhymes than just about every new rapper in the South. If the question with Pill is whether his freestyle-heavy mixtapes will beget more potential crossover tracks like “Trap Goin Ham'”, “Hear Somebody Comin'” doesn’t strive to provide an answer. But it does show that if/when Pill’s major label debut does come out, the album tracks could provide a strong backbone, one that will presumably be Hayley Williams-free.

Matt Cibula: I think this is just some superior trap-hop, but maybe I am compromised because Pill and I once had a brief Twitter conversation about the awesomeness of “Monsters, Inc.” #fulldisclosure (Also the video by Court Dunn is the SHAZBOT.)

7 Responses to “Pill – Hear Somebody Comin’”

  1. “Here’s a sad sign of how the bar’s been lowered for breaking rappers: Pill’s long-form multi-bar rapping and pitter-patter syncopation, essentials that would have been required just to be taken seriously in 1990”

    Don’t know that the bar was that high in 1990. Certainly wasn’t a few years later. We can agree that the threshold for technically competent rapper has fallen dramatically, but, you know, times change, people accommodate themselves to new modes of rapping. I wouldn’t want to live in a Jeezyless world. Anyway, it’s a great but hardly transcendent song so an 8 seems fine to me.

  2. Here’s a few hip hop albums released in 1990: A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, Digital Underground – Sex Packets, Public Enemy – Fear of A Black Planet, EPMD – Business as Usual, Ice Cube – Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, Gang Starr – Step in the Arena, Eric B and Rakim – Let the Rhythm Hit Em, Brand Nubian – One For All…
    That’s a pretty goddamn high bar.

  3. LAWYERED! (Although Tray makes a pretty good point anyway.)

  4. A high bar for… you to remember the album 20 years later. Yes. How high the bar to get taken seriously at the time is another question. I imagine in 2030 we just may not be talking about, just as we no longer talk about the two biggest sellers of that year – MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. Besides, Erick, Parrish, Phife, Guru, AND Lord Jamar weren’t the greatest technical rappers.

  5. I knew someone was going to step with the MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice double trouble. But the fact is that we DO still talk about them: from the view out the common windshield, your average person in their thirties can still sing all the words to 2 Legit or Ice Ice Baby in just the same way that your average 2030something will be able to recite Got My Swag On.
    anyways, we both agree that “the threshold for technically competent” rapping has fallen off and that’s really the only point I’m making.
    I wouldn’t mind living in a jeezyless world btw.

  6. Okay, so we do still talk about them. So that kind of proves my point – back in ’90, you could be taken seriously (by the market if not by KRS One) and not at all be a good rapper.

  7. John, you ignore the facts that a) there are plenty technically accomplished rappers today; and b) the technique of rapping has evolved many times over in the past twenty years. No one in 1990 rapped in a similar style to Pill or most other rappers today. Anyone who rapped in a 1990 style today would sound dated.