One of the most gratifying things a listener can take away from a listening experience is the sense of one to one connection with the artist. The artist never knows the listener’s personal experiences and corresponding mental state, but through their lyrics of sheer honesty and authenticity, one can understand the fact that the tracks were crafted to be a peek into a very vulnerable soul, and within that peek reflections of the listener come to focus. Pariah Pete’s debut album, released a few weeks into July, gleams with intrapersonal reflection and warm connection to the audience, and through minimal glitz, a short but sweet tracklist, timeless production, and compelling storytelling, this album boils down to just a man and his mic pouring his heart out. 

“Pearl” is a strong intro track that sets the tone for the type of sounds that are provided throughout the rest of the project, and the “rappers’ rapper” aura that is encapsulated in all the bars you will continue to hear across the album. Producer Nawlidge Nick leads the instrumentals with groovy guitar licks and a subtle wavering bassline, minimalistic but deceptively alluring despite its perceived simplicity. Pete plays the prevailing protagonist of the story, highlighting his trials and tribulations coming up as an artist, yet the hero of the story resorts to labeling himself as a villain on the track, exemplifying the conflicts and scorn that present themselves to Pete;

It’s funny cause I never said much // In school I thought the teachers lied just like the press does // But fuck that this my press run… When I had a big tee and iced tea no one liked me // I would take the bus four times a day always writing… On the avenue pray ya attitude won’t clap you // Cause the thief in the night always looking for their next lick… Imma villain // Promise it gets more gory.

The first highlight that leaps out from the album is the track “Eyes Wide Shut” — a gripping, sobering track that has Pete giving us more personal glimpses of his life and upbringing, pulling no punches in detail. Producer Sk8zen utilizes dainty, high pitched tones that function as the main draw to the rest of the simply catchy instrumentals. Also there to bolster the track is featured artist Josh Caballes, who’s subtle but powerful and soulful backup vocals helps pack a punch for lines that Pete delivers. Plenty of topics are discussed in this track, and a broad range of emotions to be felt. Pete starts by describing the humble beginnings he’s had growing up, then voices his side of what how it feels being eternally employed, followed by detailing the loss of his grandmother and seeing his mother grieve, talks about the conflict with his father, and then tops it off by a seemingly inspirational note about being a strong role model for his nephew. Many of these scenarios are described in no more than a line or two. Despite that, they are no less memorable:

I been living outta bag so all my shirts are wrinkled // I been living off a tab still ain’t pay yet… 18 living off of 19th ave // Where the crews carry tools and don’t know they dad //  So we all lost // Mothers call but we keep our phones off // No lil kid wants to see their mama crying and she lying to my eyes // Saying she’s alright, knowing damn well she’s been weeping every night… My biggest fear to this day (What?) // Being like my father (Why?) // Sociopath (What else?) // Selfish ass dad…

The next highlight off Mercury, “Take Ur Time”, comes directly after the “Eyes Wide Shut”. This is an incredible palette cleanser coming off the emotional intensity of the aforementioned track. “Take Your Time” is a wavy, lofi love song, complete with rather seductive vocals and soothing notes courtesy of featured artist Saiah. Producer Tymu utilizes music box like quality instrumentals, using a gritty record player effect and slightly off-kilter yet dulcet guitar notes. Like other love songs in its liking, Pete puts his spin on his own story of romance, spitting bars about being together with this person forever, flaws and all:

I love the idea of dropping everything just to elope // You and I in foreign countries drinking wine on a boat // But I hate to see you drink when you drunk you act a mess…is that a test from god? //  Seeing if we last? // Since you look past my flaws, should I look past yours?…

After that proclamation, these final two lines truly encapsulate what an effective love song should sound like. 

Give you the world and a pearl nothing lesser // When we ain’t talking this is how I address her…

Combined with the lyrics that compose the chorus, it’s a great punctuation to a song about giving your heart to another for the long run:

I just wanna take my time with you // Spending all the time in the world with you // I just wanna take my time // Baby take your time… Spend all the time in the world with you // I just wanna take my time // Baby take your time….

Mercury is an extremely solid start to understand the tone and emotional range that is present within the album. While Pete has a knack for the music-box like, lofi production and slower tempoed spitting, there remains explosive energy at certain moments on the album. The Crust produced track “On Me” has this high strung and pitched-up string instrumental that carries on throughout the track; it serves as a very well executed attention grabber and it contrasts nicely with the intro track. 

While not balanced out completely for “slow tracks” and “bangers” the more somber tone of the project as a whole is inviting and makes for a provocative album full of warm heartfelt stories.