Back again with his third solo effort, PMD, the slow-flower delivers The Awakening, just after the dawn of the independent era, on newly formed Solid Records, co-signed by his own Boondox Records imprint. Not much has changed this time around, as PMD is still about his “business”, mostly in the fact that this time he wasn’t afraid to enlist some dope underground producers to provide his soundtracks, not to mention that he also uses this album to set up his roster of up-&-comers, which includes names like Don-Fu-Quan, 275, and D.B.D.
PMD spends a lot of time reflecting on the mark he has made in hip-hop, and with all due respect, he can’t at all be faulted for it. The album takes a minute to jump off, but it does with strength on the hardcore (ruff, rugged, and raw) “’87 To The Present”, where Parrish rips a tough Ghetto Pros track. He continues along these same lines, deservedly patting himself on the back on the DJ Honda produced “Hip-Hop 101″, laying down some guidelines for the youngsters, and also ripping through the crown-jewel of the album “Straight From Da Heart”, produced by Kutmasta Kurt. But while Kurt’s track throws Parrish right back into his prime, one can only imagine what the entire album would have sounded like if produced by one Kurt Matlin. While the glory days of Erick and Parrish have passed (“Look At U Now” is evidence of that), there are still joints that bang on this album as the microphone doctor rips them with ease. You can’t go wrong with a Pete Rock track (“Buckwild”), and nobody can front on DJ Muggs’ RZA-esque horns of “Champions” as PMD and B-Real play “Mef Vs. Chef” and battle for the title.
While these tracks loosely hold the album together, unfortunately, much of the rest of the record is spent trying to spotlight PMD’s pool of new talent and old friends. While this would have been fine on maybe one “Headbanger” and one “Rampage”, the guest list is over-extended, as newbies 275, Rob Jackson, J-Boogie, Don Fu-Quan, Feever, and Rah appear on a whopping five tracks, including a less-than-stellar and very unnecessary remake of “You’re a Customer”, called “Still A Customer” (imagine that). And while this sounds sad in itself, don’t even bother with verses from Drayz from Das Efx (“Next Chapter”) and K-Solo (“Back To Work”), as both are painful reminders that the golden age is over. Meanwhile, PMD has always been cursed with bland album tracks, and this album is no different, with “P’s Still Dangerous” and “The Awakening” (an uncharacteristicly sleepy Alchemist track), among other snoozers that sneak their way in.
All in all, PMD’s latest is split down the middle. There are tracks on here that celebrate his legacy, yet there are others that do nothing to preserve it. While this is an album for the core fans of EPMD and even more-so, Parrish Smith as a solo artist, reinventing the concept of Parrish Making Dollars in 2003 may not be as easy with today’s generation of youngsters and knownots.
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