The old cliché goes something like, “It’s been X number of years in the making, but the wait was worth it.”
It’s understandable why one might tack such a description on to PackFM’s debut album: it’s the product of an almost decade-long effort, and, indeed, the final product is ridiculous. Still, as doubters sneer that the Brooklyn emcee is a one-dimensional battle rapper, it is clear that not nearly as many people have been marking the days off their calendars as there should be. Perhaps a more accurate description for whutduzFMstand4? is that it’s the album most cats didn’t know they were waiting for.
It is safe to say that the 16-track album will exceed the overwhelming majority of expectations, whether they did or didn’t previously exist. For example, the Elite-produced “I Can’t Win”––a clear standout track––so perfectly illustrates Pack’s sheer hunger in the rap game. His fierce style of delivery is balanced by the piano-laced backdrop, which is punctuated with an intoxicating female voice singing a tune of optimism. It is rare for a song about such frustrating circumstances to sound so alive and beautiful.
On “Click Clack & Spray,” an ode to graffiti, Pack tells the detailed story of sneaking out late-night to bomb a train, using vivid descriptions and a tone of voice that captures the stealth needed to tag inconspicuously and the adrenaline of pulling it off. The Deacon the Villain-produced beat includes the shaking and spraying of a Krylon can, adding to the already intense image.
“Free-Esta,” a lively, Latin-influenced number punctuated with snaps, drums and horns, is the easily-relatable anthem for those who refuse to pay $30 to get into some wack ass club. He spits: “Listen up, I ain’t payin’/If the DJ’s wack, then I ain’t stayin’/Fuck what the list say, I’ma find my way in/You know, the kid’s in free, like the Holiday Inn….” It is the perfect song to drink a margarita and be cheap to.
On “Token Love Song,” the graffiti artist/battle rapper persona is replaced with an honest and vulnerable man, reflecting on a past relationship with a heavy heart. But before one can begin to say “aw,” the Brooklyn emcee turns around shits on the ladies on “Ugly Woman,” laying a fat turd across those challenged in the looks department. Pack reunites with the whole Extended F@mm [Tonedeff, Session, Substantial, Pack] on the bluesy, psych rock number, and they trade off with battle-worthy punch lines. Spits Session: “I introduced her to my boys, they tried to hold me back/I told em ‘I ain’t Shallow Hal dog, I know she fat!’/Fuck it, at least she make sure I don’t see her when I wake up/cuz she so ugly she need to creep up on her make-up…”
A few songs have been previously released, such as “STOMP” and “Forevershine.” Those who have heard them before will have an idea of what to expect, as the entire album embodies the hype and punch-you-in-the-teeth energy of these two exemplary tracks. Some may suggest that it’s a weak move to include “old songs” on a new album, but one listen makes it clear that there is nowhere they belong more.
There are no bad songs on this album; the only thing keeping it from being a perfect 10 is that a couple of songs––“Kilt It,” for example––can seem lackluster in comparison to the unquestionable bangers. Of course, there are more songs on the album than can be mentioned individually in a short review. They are all, however, solid efforts, and together make whutduzFMstand4? one of the strongest QN5 releases to date.
Any notion that PackFM is a one-dimensional battle rapper will be effectively smashed after hearing this collection of clever, comedic, introspective and intelligent songs, all fused together with an amazing, raw energy.