In Los Angeles’ new era of hip-hop, many artists have found it most beneficial to represent themselves and remain independent. Pac Div discovered this reality after signing with Universal Motown in 2009 when they felt that commercialized stardom wasn’t a good fit for them and they ripped up the contract. The West Coast trio was faced with the difficult task of rebuilding their sound. In the meantime, Pac Div released Don’t Mention It and Mania!, which were two decent mix-tapes with a couple good singles off each, but neither was the ground breaker that they needed. This didn’t occur until they dropped The Div (2011), which proved that they needed to be independent all along.
Through the journey of rediscovery of themselves and their music, Pac Div took a break and did not release any music for a whole year until GMB. GMB stands for the members of the group: Gabe, Mike and Bryan, and it serves as a reinvention of the group as they return to their roots by doing what they do best in what they call “following their own formula.” In this project, Pac Div does an incredible job of redefining themselves as heavy hitters on the scene that makes their veteran fans remember why they fell in love with their music in the first place, and makes new fans wonder why they hadn’t been rocking with them a long time ago.
In an exclusive interview with 90.5FM KSJS, BeYoung says that GMB has, “the feeling, you gone have that payday feeling, and then you gone go home and roll up, like its one of those days where you might be able to walk on water, its really something to feel good about. We sticking to the script, we’re still Pac Div, but more so, I think we’re just hitting you hard the whole time.”
GMB consists of diverse tracks that range from feel-good vibes that are food for thought, to smooth, jazz-melodic sounds that appeals to the ladies, to hardcore and energetic bangers. There are also a variation of producers, including Swiff D, Scoop Deville, DJ Battlecat, Thelonious Martin, Chuck Inglish, and Pac Div’s very own, Like (Gabe).
Pac Div has always been known for their upbeat and smooth production that is accompanied by rebel chanting hooks and cohesive wordplay. These effects can be heard on the group’s most acclaimed track, “Mayor.” Other songs include, “Broccoli” off Don’t Mention It, “Top Down” from The Div. So it is no surprise that these familiar effects can also be heard on GMB, with tracks like “Bank,” “Sneakerboxes,” and “Automatic.”
Features on the album include, Mac Miller, Kurupt & DJ Battlecat, TY$, Blu and Kendrick Lamar. The album starts off with Pac Div chanting the lyrics, “We on top, nah we don’t quit, nah we don’t stop, nu-huh we don’t lose… She want that GMB,” which is a reintroduction to their music and indie endeavors. Then it transitions into “Bank,” which is the project’s most aggressive song as the crew lies out their frustrations with life on the track. The rest of the project follows what the crew does after the major bank robbery, as they ball out on “Sneakerboxes,” go to the strip club on “Slow,” explain the effects of the grind and hustle on “Can’t Help It,” dismiss all the haters on “F*ck Y’all,” the group boasts about newly acquired cash on “Black Acura,” and ends with the celebratory track, “It’s All Love” where the group reflects on how far Pac Div has come over the years.
A mishap with GMB is the single, “Black Acura,” that features Mac Miller. Each member of Pac Div has a strong lyrical ability, however, the weak production on the song makes it difficult for any of the MCs to sound decent on, especially Mac Miller, who sluggishly rhymes over the beat and brings nothing to the table. However, this misstep does not make you want to stop listening; the other songs after it make up for it tremendously.
Through versatility of sounds and styles, Pac Div delivers a well-polished album that goes back to the roots of who Pac Div truly is. The levels of lyricism are balanced as no individual outshines the others, which has not been as evident on other projects. As far as accomplishing a ground-breaking project, Pac Div is not quite there yet, but I don’t think that was their goal. It was most important that the group accomplished the goal of discovering themselves as individuals first and then delivering musically. “Its people out there still just finding out that there’s three dudes in the group, so its like we still have a lot to do with Pac Div,” says BeYoung (Bryan) in a recent interview. GMB represents the start of that journey and I’m sure that fans will follow them all the way to the top.
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