Big Pooh is definitely attempting to separate himself from the Little Brother brand and create a brand of his own.
It seems with every solo project, he takes baby steps away from that LB brand. With Dirty Pretty Things, he's taking an even bigger step. Yes, he is the other third of the original LB crew, so you will always get that. But some of the tracks on here are a little different and even on the darker side of Pooh than we are used to hearing from him.
At first listen, it would appear that the 'solo' Pooh is still in competition with the 'LB side' of Pooh. But after a few more listens, it dawned on me. The title of the Album is Dirty Pretty Things, and that's exactly what you'll get, the pretty and the dirty. LB Pooh shows up in songs like, Free, and Legendary Lullaby, but solo Pooh (or who I will refer to as Darth Pooh) steps in and you get songs like Are you Ready, and They Say. Some songs fall somewhere in between the two personas.
I was actually moved by this album a little as well. It has to be hell being constantly compared to his LB counterparts. Fans of LB didn't take to Pooh's previous solo projects too tough. Critics treated Pooh like the step brother of LB at times. So with this project, he's getting some of that frustration out. "I just wanna be free, at the end of the day, I can only be me, open up your eyes and maybe you'll see, that I am who I'm dying to be." (from Free). Shoutem Outro also let's those critics know that he ain't mad, he's not even going to give them the finger, he's just going to sit back and smile.
So stand out cuts for me are:
1. They Say - Introducing Darth Pooh. It's twisted, it's dark, it's dirty, it's dope.
2. Are You Ready - Signature Nottz beat right here. Love this one.
3. Around the World/Put You on - Soulful. LB Pooh.
4. 5.13.11 - Channels Ghostface on this one with that thug passion vibe. The ending scared me a lil bit though. Dammit Darth Pooh. lol
5. Ballad of the Son - This is actually the second half of track 8, but the beat is crazy. Nottz did it again.
6. Free - He really expresses himself on this one.
7. Legendary Lullaby - Inspirational! There's a soundbite from an Obama speech that I can truly appreciate. "Gotta push to be legendary"
8. Real Love - That deep base, that comes in every 4 bars or so, you can feel deep in your gut. Features Focus (and he also produced this one). Pooh touches on that LB struggle a bit and he expresses his uncertainty, but loyalty dealing with his brother.
9. End of an Empire - So the days of LB are over, but don't worry, Big Pooh will be alright. "See you in the sky".
10. Medicine Man (bonus) - Goes hard.
So this one gets a rating of FIYAH. The only problem I can say I had is that I'm a stickler for how an album flows and I found myself taking the album apart and putting the tracks back together in a different order. But that's it.
I said a lot in this post, and I may be somewhere out in left field with my observations, but I think I get it, and Pooh wants his listeners, fans, and critics to get it. STOP PUTTING HIM IN A F*CKIN BOX. F*ck you and your expectations. He's representing hip hop how he sees fit and wants to make it right with her. Nothing else really matters.
Let me add, this was kind of therapeutic for me. Connections, relationships, and friendships are made in this game, and they can easily be broken. Asking for or expecting support from certain folk is lame, so you just have to create a new circle, and become interdependent in order to keep moving towards your ultimate goal, whatever that may be.
sn: I would love to interview him for some further insight on this album. Dirty Pretty Things was probably the most introspective project Big Pooh has ever done. Salute!
(Below are the videos for They Say and Medicine Man.)