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When you think of bay area rap, there’s a few names that immediately come to mind. E-40, Too $hort, and Mac Dre are a few of the legends who pioneered the rap sound in the Bay Area. But over the past decade, the collective known as The HBK Gang have been making some serious moves and dropping some serious heat. The most recent project from the collective is co-founder P-Lo’s Shine.

Born Paolo Rodriguez, the Filipino-American rapper with a mouth of full gold doesn’t disappoint, dropping his signature combination of lighthearted lyrical content over heavy bass line driven beats. P-Lo, who brought us the popular 2017 single, “Put Me On Somethin,” blesses us with 16 new tracks here, fresh off the press. Let’s dive into a few of my highlights.

The first standout song that caught my attention was the youthful, “Off The Chain”. Originally a producer, P-Lo’s beat selection is primo. As the beat bounces, P-Lo composes a song with not only a couple of verses for the rap heads, but also a chorus and pre-chorus for overall music fans. He’s loose and vibes on the beat, focusing rather on well-tuned transitions than on ultra-technical and sometimes forced sounding lyricism.

The second standout track for me was, “Can’t Break Code”. Starting with a 10 second interview snippet of E-40, the beat drops and the song kicks right into high gear with a melodic chorus. On this hook, P-Lo sings, “Ay, uh, I cannot break code, Ay, uh, I do not chase hoes, Ay, yuh, all about bank roll,” pledging his focused allegiance to the hustle and the music game. Dropping only one rap verse on this song, it’s clear P-Lo understands he’s much more than just a rapper. Similar to “Off The Chain,” P-Lo proves he’s a musician. He makes music. He vibes. And for the remainder of the track, P-Lo doubles up on the hook and ties the bow on this track at a solid 2 minutes and 54 seconds, despite only dropping one rap verse.

Lastly, you can’t drop a hip-hop album without dropping at least one song for the ladies. Assisted by Oakland’s own Kehlani, the two deliver a modern romantic duet on “Sneeze”. On most rap/R&B duets, the rapper typically steps aside and lets the female singer lead the way on the chorus. Interestingly, on this one, P-Lo stays in the driver’s sea and sets the tone with a classic rap chorus. Kehlani only makes her appearance for the second verse. They team up on the outro chorus with P-Lo rapping the hook and Kehlani offering up soft adlibs and overall masculine/feminine balance.

All in all, this album is packed with reoccurring themes. You got bouncey bass driven beats and a rapper who isn’t afraid to break into melody and carry his own choruses/hooks. This melodic trend in hip hop is on the rise and everyone’s trying to do it, but the ones who stand out are the ones who can start a rap verse and seamlessly transition in a melodic hook. Throughout Shine, it’s sometimes hard to tell where the rapping stops and the singing starts, and (vice versa). If you’re looking for a lighthearted, vibey hip-hop album, give this one a listen. You won’t regret it!


As always, rock on my friends!     Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  9.1 out of 10

Artist:  P-Lo  LP: Shine,   Release Date: Aug 16th, 2019,  Label:  HBK Records

Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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