Review: P Money's Album, "Live & Direct"

Updated on December 31, 2016
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Reviews are a pain-free way of combining writing, with what I love (music for eg.), in a way that generates interest.

P Money Is Steely and Full-Force on "Live & Direct"

After more than a decade of mixtape, EP and single releases London grime star P Money unleashes his studio debut, 'Live & Direct'. ‘Live & Direct’ reinforces and supports 2016’s handful of seminal grime albums, but it doesn’t outshine them. P Money is steely and full-force across ‘Live & Direct’, he’s a weighty and consistent rap presence. However, the individual tunes don’t always feel special. The worst sound like they could’ve been released by any number of hungry UK grime acts. That said, ‘Live & Direct’ should satisfy long-term fans of the burgeoning genre.

P Money covers a lot of ground on ‘Live & Direct’. The Londoner instantly proves his rap prowess on the album’s achingly confessional, autobiographical opener ‘Intro’, which overflows with indirect social commentary. After going on a rant for ‘Fake Fans’, the rapper professes gratitude on ‘The Credits’. Beside braggy grime banger ‘Gunfingers’, P Money plays the family man on interlude ’Carter’, which features the voice of his child.

The Album's Big, Bold and Aspiring Grime Production

P Money’s rap persona is not show-stoppingly charismatic. Every so often the emcee is outshone by one of the album’s impressive guest stars. A large chunk of P Money’s showboating is channelled through the album’s production, which is big, bold and aspiring. Like P Money’s previous dalliances with dubstep music, the emcee often uses ‘Live & Direct’ to go beyond what is perhaps expected from him as a grime artist.

Though this is admirable and rare, the album’s enterprising efforts can feel directionless and disarrayed. Certain tracks go too far and try to tick too many boxes. The most affected can feel puffed up and overworked. The tracklist’s more recognisable (and arguably safer) grime tracks sound streamlined and purposeful in comparison.

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"Welcome To England" is Ruthless, Trappy Fight Music

Stormzy easily enhances ballsy highlight ‘Keepin’ It Real’. Admittedly, during its hooks ‘Keepin’ It Real’ can sound like a retread of the superior P Money single ’10/10’. Blessed by a furiously turnt-up guest spot from Boy Better Know rapper Solo 45, standout ‘Welcome To England’ is ruthless, trappy fight music. Amid its sheer fury, P Money uses the tune to lament on how the local authority in his neighbourhood have closed down the community’s youth clubs, leaving the young people there with nothing to do and more susceptible to crime.

‘Contagious’ is the LP's most obvious example of its soaring ambition. Featuring sultry, airy vocals from Rubylee, ’Contagious’ brings a completely different vibe to ‘Live & Direct’. The track replicates radio’s R&B/pop, and squeezes in dubstep elements. Placed just after the mammoth-sounding, defiantly street-level, ‘Mans Involved’ with rappers Blacks, Little Dee, Jendor and Ruger, ‘Contagious’ sticks out on the tracklisting. Alongside each other, the two cuts sound like they’re from two completely different artists.

The Rapper Airs His Grievances on "Fake Fans"

Focused on making money, P Money straightforwardly asks to kept out of industry gossip on vigorous trap cut ‘Don’t Holla At Me’ alongside The Splurgeboys. ‘Don’t Holla At Me’ wants to be playful, but the tune can feel immature - and like a vacant initiation of stateside trap efforts. It wouldn’t take too long to find another trap cut online that does what ‘Don’t Holla At Me’ does. P Money’s West Indian vernacular takes centre stage over the foreboding beats of ‘Conspiracy Don’. The rapper spends most of the tune venomously dismissing his rivals.

P Money does more of the same on the lyrically brutal ‘Fake Fans’, a track which targets people who only like grime music because it’s trending at the moment. ‘Fake Fans’ also hones in on those who lie and say that they went to school with P Money, as well as other artists who bug the rapper for beats that he’s already spat over. It’s all pretty entertaining.

"Gunfingers" Features Emcees JME and Wiley

Produced by Skepta and featuring JME and Wiley, ‘Gunfingers’ is a highlight. It’s the kind of track that could attract non-grime fans towards the genre. ‘Gunfingers’ is easy to get involved with and chant along to.

The tune’s accessible, catchy refrains will no doubt go down a storm live. Based around a ridiculously jingly loop, as well as a call/shout chorus, ‘Lyrics & Flows’ is another instant-grat grime offering. The cut’s simplicity allows P Money to freely show-off his lyrical skills. The rapper unleashes a range of standout, dexterous rap bars on it.

P Money Remerges From Self-Doubt on "Take Over"

P Money starts the trippy, trappy mid-tempo ’Take Over’ recalling a time when he was questioning whether he was truly living up to his creative potential. With the assistance of London singer/songwriter NY, ’Take Over’ describes coming back stronger than ever before from that period of self-doubt. Driven and determined lyrics are delivered from both artists.

Kicking off after a subdued, murky drum ’n’ bass intro, the previously-released '10/10’ is tacked onto the end of ‘Live & Direct’. With Sir Spyro and Rude Kid on production duties, the track’s deep beats, social vibes and instant hook attempt to unite the UK’s many grime scenes together. Despite the cut’s after-dark menace, ’10/10’ sounds effortless and brisk. P Money is completely at ease on it.

Paying Tribute to Ed Sheeran, Skepta and Dizzee Rascal

The precise, fragmented and pointedly lo-fi beats of ‘The Credits’ are nearly experimental. The ever-ready P Money is more than happy to spit heated rap bars over them. ‘The Credits’ pays tribute to the artists, friends and music personnel who got P Money to where he is today. The rapper shouts out the likes of Ed Sheeran, Skepta, Dizzee Rascal and Katy B, to name a few. The tune indadvertedly provides a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes workings of the music industry, as well as P Money’s own come up.

Verdict: ****** 6.5/10

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