Last month, I was asked by Stylus editor Jenny Henkelman to write about my favorite local rap release of the decade (hey, y'all can yell in my ear all you want about how the decade will actually end when 2011 hits...life's too short to care about that). Without hesitation, I told her that it was John Smith's Pinky's Laundromat, and I'd be happy to write about it. For those of you that aren't near enough to the city to pick up a copy of the December/January issue, here's what I jotted down:
You can purchase Pinky's from Peanuts and Corn directly, Phonographique, eMusic, or iTunes (if you're a Canuck, you can see the five-star review I gave it, where I also compared "Bible Belt Babylon" to "Streets of New York". I still stand by that).
The best MCs have the ability to tell a vivid story. In John Smith's Pinky's Laundromat, you get 13 of those, touching upon themes like sex, drugs, violence, hard times and love. There aren't enough good rap concept albums, and Smitty ties the affair together via his interactions with the patrons of the titular laundromat. Unlike many rap album skits, there's no need to skip these, as they never cease to be entertaining, and they're breezy enough to not wear out their welcome.
For me, this album marks where Smitty found his voice and true rhythm. Where he'd previously cram a lot of info one line, here he paces himself and weaves compelling tales about crackhead pot dealers ("Taxicab Confessions"), aggressive short-order cooks ("Iron Chef") and less-than-lovely lovers ("Bumpin' Uglies"), all within the confines of this fine city, particularly the North End. My favorite track: "Bible Belt Babylon", a moody ode to Peg City on par with Nas' "N.Y. State of Mind". It's that dope.
Not only is this a great lyrical achievement for Smitty, but unending kudos also goes to mcenroe – the album's producer – for providing the gritty sonic landscape.
Up-and-coming rappers should aspire to make something this good.