Smart in theme, dynamics, concept, and consistency, Chicago hip-hop artist Phenominal One (P1) returns with his latest release after his first in six years. Its title Vintage Phe (Phe short for Phenominal) suggests this rapper is not settling for mediocrity or submission to stereotypes that co-exist in the hip-hop genre.
P1 is a different breed of emcee- artistry mix with modern, mainstream, indie, cool, modish, retro, hipster, to old-school. This is evident in the production of the album as he pays homage to hip-hop in keeping the traditional hip-hop signature sound (hence the Vintage title). The soulful “I Feel Bad” is indicative of the pure raw hip-hop monogram. Here he lets loose his frustration on rappers not standing up for something meaningful; young black men being murdered, the sterilization of hip-hop from impurities, to dealing with a lost generation of non-thinkers and followers that have no leadership qualities or accountability for their actions.
Content wise, these notions are not the only thing P1 lyrically specifics. Vintage Phe serves autobiographical where the album’s beauty shines the brightest for its communicated pain expressed in delivery and content. Its heartbreak, passion, detriment, glory, honor, integrity, and wit are musically well-documented as a struggling artist “Coming Up” in music and in the world. The hip-hop gospel flavored single is all things that make up the person and hip-hop persona he is today- a force to be reckoned.
P1feels the need to prove something to himself, to ascertain he has what it takes to make it as an artist and worthy of conquering the music industry predominately the Chicago music scene that can be hard to penetrate and earn acceptance. While pursuing his dreams, P1 wastes no time in asking whether one is “In Or Out” of the picture. It is a song that silences critics that try to add their two cents but have nothing to offer or contribute to his artistic career. It is a song any artist can relate. The dopeness in sound and delivery to “Stole My Bike” tints metaphoric comparisons to bikes stolen from him as a kid to how individuals in the music scene run upon him to sabotage his talent and career moves.
Uniquely, the middle to conclusion of the album is where listeners hear dynamic metamorphisms of the artist. P1 is in between the realms of cocky and humble, confessional and untold, confidence and skeptical, underrated and overnight celebrity, faith and fear, hope and failure, alpha and omega, to God versus the devil. Life could end in any moment in time. He never thought in “A Million Years” he would be able to surpass all obtsacles and circumstances: guns pointing to his face to surviving traumatic accidents. The greatest feeling in life is that no matter how much one endures in the midst of chaos, he is “Feeling Like A King.” Though, the artist “Still Ain’t Quittin’.” He is going to “Keep Flowing” until his heart stops beating.
Vintage Phe is nowhere near of the sophomore jinx. The album serves therapeutic for the artist and comes out triumphant in the end. Phenominal One is a diamond formed under pressure. 2015 is P1’s vintage year of outstanding distinction and success.
Hector De La Rosa
FB: El Jeffe Hack