Let me put you all on to these guys called PMSC. Their Soundcloud says PMSC means Power Move Smoke Club, but it really means Pretty Marvelous Soundcloud Crew. They say in their tracks that they’re from Eastside Atlanta, but they sound like they’re from Ishtar Terra, a plateau on hellish Venus. And though they may look like an average Trap crew, they’re really the greatest group out here in the landscape of Soundcloud Rap, and maybe even music in general. Honestly, when you listen to these guys’ stuff, you’ll hate your favorite rapper and call him Vanilla Ice. When you start quoting these bars, you’ll throw away KOD and burn DAMN. And when you hear these beats, you’ll swear Kanye makes beats on Garageband and Metro Boomin uses a trash can for his production. In short, this really IS it, chief.
Jokes aside, PMSC is a highly underrated bunch of rappers who have been putting out quality projects for years. Their most recent projects have all been great to listen to, but their album Da Eastside Manifesto is an underrated masterpiece of Hip Hop. Each track glistens with character and individuality that makes them stand out from the crowd, not to mention accompanying videos which provide immaculate levels of drip to the groups image. Every member of the group contributes their own unique style to the sound of the ensemble, from Reeco $wanklord’s jovial, prophetic energy to Nick Satchel’s laid back, whispery delivery. The production choices, coming from their chief producer Jay Express, have a jazzy mercurial atmosphere and bounce, sampling grandiose and exciting clips from shows and movies.
While this is all well and good, is this project solid enough to provide interest in these described talents?
Absolutely, and it does even more than just that.
The first track on the album, “Cartel Rhymes”, is rapped exclusively by Reeco $wanklord, the de facto leader of the group given his number of appearances. It has lo-fi, jazzy production, mimicking the styling of producers like Nujabes and J Dilla, and a recorded excerpt of an interview with the late, great, Tupac Shakur is sampled into the track in the ending, as well as an anonymous friend of the group giving a similar sentiment as the God (Tupac) himself. Reeco uses a distorted, melancholy voice to express his similarly depressed emotional state in the track. He tells the listener of the risks of his lifestyle of gang ties and drug use and communicates his emotion powerfully in this intro.
The next track “Preamble” has a change of pace, having a more familiar overzealous and aggressive attitude that we see in most Atlanta Hip Hop. The lyrics of the song act, as the title says, as a preamble to the group hustle, telling listeners that the members of PMSC are not to be trifled with. I say trifled in place of other expletives. It is produced by Jay Express and features Reeco, Nick Satchel, and Jazz Alleyway on vocals. Jazz Alleyway especially stands out from the others with his melodic and energetic singing, aided with some T Pain inspired autotune.
The third track is the greatest of the album, and probably one of the most underrated songs ever made, “F*ck Police”. The production of the track shines with it’s stuttered, mysterious sampling mixed with its hard-hitting bass, and the rapping of Reeco and Nick stand to be quite unique and experimental throughout the track. Reeco uses some poetic and clever bars to illustrate the paranoid and cautionary sentiment against the police in the song, with cryptic lines such as “Thought I’m playing, cause the Scarecrow told me you can’t win. It’s in blood cause you a twin, feeling aight again.” He also raps the hook of the song, using a confident but carefree tone to get across his confidence and lethality, and his delivery helps to make the hook quite the earworm, despite the fact that by and large, mostly due to his accent, it becomes hard to understand what exactly what it is he is saying. Then again, this issue never stood in the way of Young Thug, Ariana Grande, Led Zeppelin, or James Brown’s success, despite having notoriously ambiguous pronunciation issues. Nick Satchel’s verse on the song is even greater than that of Reeco’s, however. His abstract vernacular and voice is intoxicating as he daisy-chains hilarious bars together, like when he says “So high in the sky, feel like Tony Stark”. He almost sounds like he just woke up and is yawning while he raps, but this sound helps to make him more entertaining, as opposed to base and dumb.
The other tracks on the album are a pretty strong bunch, maintaining the bubbly and upbeat attitude of Nick’s verse, even throughout the more serious tracks. Songs like “Thankful” and “Culmination” have a similar style to the previous track but provide a more serious energy, and the appearance of group member Master Cretan adds a lot to both tracks with his fast-paced delivery and eclectic flows. “Patrol” changes the mood with the jazz sampled beat and conscious rap featured in the song. The hook and first verse from Funk Everett have a serious and self-aware theme to its content, but unfortunately, Reeco doesn’t really seem to observe this theme, and goes to his usual talk of “don’t talk down oma squaw, you ‘ont mess wit ma team”. Though his voice and lyricism are entertaining, his lack of versatility coupled with him having more appearances on each track more than any other member create the albums main flaw: Reeco is more one dimensional than the other rappers in the group. This problem could be observed in other tracks like “Shoutro”, “Bando”, and “Good Gas”. Reeco is still enjoyable despite his shortcomings, and thus the album is still excellent, making the issue seem more like a nitpick than a huge error.
A similar issue to Reeco’s could be seen with some groups like The Beatles, where every song written by Ringo is repetitive, simplistic, and shallow compared to John and Paul’s more talented writing abilities.
The only song on the album I think is less than amazing is “Switch”, where I think they could have mastered the ad-libs and the vocals a little bit better. Like, for real, it’s a bit cringey how awkward they sound on this one.
Overall, this project is an exciting and original album from a criminally underrated crew from Dekalb County, Georgia. The production from Jay Express is peculiarly outstanding, and the voices and bars from the members of the crew are distinct and memorable. It’s guaranteed that at least one of these tracks will get in your head, and the effortless charisma and drip emanated from the group help to make everything on the album shine the best they can. The only drawbacks are Reeco $wanklord’s lack of topical range and the song “Switch”, which you should probably skip. But overall, it’s a strong 7, light 8 out of ten.