Pouya - FIVE FIVE
The term “SoundCloud rapper” has become a bit of a polarizing term in the music industry. Originating heavily from South Florida, artists that hold the “prestigious” title include the likes of Lil Pump, XXXTentacion, Smokepurpp, Lil Yachty, Ski Mask the Slump God and $uicide Boy$. Regardless of how you feel about “mumble rap”, it’s here to stay, and the response has been undeniable. Obnoxiously distorted bass and non-sensical lyrics with a “yeah” or “skrrrit” in every bar with bonus points for citing obscure prescription drugs means you have yourself a hit. But, what happens when someone not only embraces the “SoundCloud rapper” title but has the talent to back it up? Enter Pouya, an artist you’ve probably never heard of, but has collaborated or performed with all the artists mentioned above. With only his second studio album, FIVE FIVE attempts to refine and focus this emerging genre out of the ashes that SoundCloud is becoming.
Simply put: FIVE FIVE is a damn near perfect album. Where Pouya’s first studio album, Underground Underdog was unfocused and stereotypical in its lyrical content and beat selection, FIVE FIVE is the best aspects of that album in a neat 32-minute package. This album could easily have been bogged down with collaborators, but unlike the tracks Pouya finds himself featured on, he puts himself at the forefront and proves he can carry an album on his own.
Pouya’s flow is reminiscent of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, who Pouya admits to being heavily influenced by, even referring to himself as "Baby Bone" sometimes. This smooth and melodic flow is beautifully shown on tracks like “Daddy Issues”, “Weighing On Me” and “Voices”. Simultaneously, Pouya is able to define his own sound. That sound is more directly seen on songs like, “Handshakes”, which deals with industry snakes, and “Back Off Me”, a tense track that shows that even a smooth style lends itself to an aggressive song. This blend of styles is beautifully displayed on the opening track “Aftershock”, which highlights Pouya's strengths, making it no accident he chose to lead the album with it.
Another great example of Pouya's ability is the title track "FIVE FIVE", which might just be the hardest track on the album. The only collaboration on the entire album is by Night Lovell on “Don’t Bang My Line”, another hard-hitting track. Lovell is a confusing choice for a collaborator as his feature adds almost nothing to the track, a short verse of typical nonsense we’d expect elsewhere, and the empty verse goes against the grain to Pouya's no-filler style.
The beat production is handled by Mikey The Magician, a fact Pouya doesn’t seldom let you forget, starting several tracks with the shout out “MTM, hit em' with the heat!”. This harkens back to old-school hip-hop where it was common to plug producers repeatedly, but the line is used so often it becomes baffling and even comical after awhile. The beats are best defined as melodic to straight dark-trap, and perfectly compliment Pouya’s manic style.
Lyrically, the album has a little bit of everything. Dealing with some heavy topics that don’t exactly feel like heavy topics in the moment. They're balanced out with enough ignorance about rocking Gucci and just wanting to fuck to make you second guess what you just heard. Pouya walks the line of conscious hip-hop, admitting and embracing his flaws as a person, but also letting us in on the fact that he’s just having a good time and enjoying the ride. At 32 minutes, the album is the perfect length to wrap your head around and is completely stripped of filler. FIVE FIVE is a blast from start to finish.
In a word, Pouya feels hungry. He has developed his craft to a level where he can’t be confused with the rest of the rap world. At its heart, FIVE FIVE sees Pouya really defining his own sound as an individual, one that attempts and succeeds at carving his place out in the sea of garbage that infects the genre as a whole. Perhaps that’s why everyone wants him on their own tracks now, to lend some credibility to their own sound because no matter the style, Pouya is as versatile as they come. No longer making a name for himself through other rappers tracks, Pouya has arrived and is here to stay. If you haven’t heard of Pouya yet, do yourself a favor and listen to FIVE FIVE.