Percee P - Perseverance
Tom Blackburn 13/11/2007
No rapper has ever waited as long to put out a debut LP as underground legend Percee P - 19 years since his first single appearance, to be exact - and after so long hawking mixtapes and putting in show-stealing cameos on albums by the likes of Edan and Jurassic 5, he's finally seen fit to drop the appropriately titled Perseverance.
So, is it worth the two-decade wait? Well, not quite. Although Percee's machine-gun flow is totally distinctive and Madlib's production is as strong as we've come to expect from the erstwhile Mad villain, Percee's lyrics haven't really evolved beyond rugged battle raps. You'd expect a man who's endured such a long wait and doubtless the frustrations that come with it to have a story to tell, but Perseverance gives us little insight into the man himself.
Of course, Percee has so many inventive and amusing ways of informing the listener that he is better than everyone on every conceivable level it's hard not to enjoy it. 'Your ho ass got a vendetta 'cos I always been better / A trendsetter, fans send letters to me / Instead of yo' ass,' he spits on the excellent 'Put It On the Line'.
Percee does leave his braggadocio comfort zone to enjoyable effect on 'The Man to Praise', and sounds almost childishly excited by the opportunity to step up on his own record whilst recounting his own remarkable hip-hop history. On 'The Lady Behind Me', meanwhile, the self-proclaimed Rhyme Inspector puts an entertaining spin on a well-worn love-as-rap metaphor.
The prolific Madlib continues to defy the law of diminishing returns, and his work behind the boards provides a diverse backdrop for Percee, who before now was perhaps best known for straightforward New York bangers. Sitting roughly halfway between the harsh funk of the Jaylib collaboration Champion Sound and his recent Beat Konducta in India work, for Perseverance Madlib blends cop-show funk, buzzing electro and Eastern influences for a set of timeless-sounding beats.
The guest appearances, however, aren't always so impressive. Although Prince Po pops up with an energetic performance on 'Last of the Greats' and Guilty Simpson impresses on 'Watch Your Step', the hopelessly overrated Aesop Rock and monotone ex-Jurassic 5 man Chali 2na are made to look distinctly ordinary by the energised Percee.
'Perseverance' might be quite a way from being the classic so many hoped it would be, but nevertheless it's an entertaining debut from an exceptionally talented (if limited in lyrical scope) MC, backed by outstanding beats courtesy of one of the most talented producers in rap. Well worth picking up.