Plutoz - An Indie Hip Hop Triumph

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this review, I’m going to be delving into ‘The EP,’ an aptly titled record that just dropped from Plutoz, an indie hip hop outfit from San Francisco. The group prefaced my immersion into the project with two items: it incorporates elements of satire and it’s most certainly not safe for work. Fortunately, this is my work. Let’s dig into ‘The EP.’

Immediately, I got my chuckles from ‘Intro (Plutoz is Back.)’ ‘Old School Rob’ explodes onto the scene complaining about the weak material his group is providing him. Chock-full of pop culture references the likes of Caitlin Jenner and Ron Paul, ‘Intro’ is an infectiously hilarious opener. Beyond that, however, it’s very well performed and produced. The beats are tight and sound insanely good on a quality system. “You’ve all been waiting a decade for this shit,” Old School Rob exclaims. There’s an old school element to it - something that pays peculiar homage to N.W.A or similar acts. It also feels incredibly contemporary, particularly in the production.

‘Mitochondria’ is remarkably witty. VooDoo and Old School Rob bounce off one another organically and effortlessly. Now, I listened to ‘The EP’ four times through prior to this review. I’d like to get something out of the way immediately - the beats. I can’t accolade Plutoz enough for their creative usage of instrumentation. Each song’s beat feels fresh and different from the last. In an independent scene completely jam packed with pre-set Garageband beats and laughable blunders, Plutoz elegant production - yes, elegant - is a breath of fresh air.

The group spends some of their time making fun of modern ‘machismo’ rap. It couldn’t be funnier or better executed. How about on ‘Reppin AG’ with VooDoo and Rob’s one-up contest about their gayness? Absolutely hysterical. Underneath that, though, there’s yet another complex, superb beat. Sparse synthesizers dance with an acoustic guitar, vocal harmonies, and some tactful reverb.

“This EP is easily increasing the probability of getting naughty,’ ‘Club Bang Her’ begins. Essentially, the song is a satirical comedy on the ridiculous, over-the-top rapper lifestyle. Rob and VooDoo embrace every stereotypical, egotistical rapper trope - They’re basically acting like Kanye West. (It’s okay, Kanye. I’m a Chicagoan, too. Nothing but love.) ‘Typewriter’ is equally as sharp, taking shots at Trump and harkening to a vintage vibe.

‘Stockholm Syndrome’ has a particularly excellent backbeat. There’s an acoustic band backing this at times - it reminds me of the banter between Jay Z and the Roots when they’d perform together. This tune has an awesomely funky beat that you just can’t deny. ‘Sack Religious’ utilizes that funk to an even greater extent. Seriously, it might as well be the Roots.

The lyricism of ‘Sack Religious’ is exactly what you expect: poking fun at organized religion - the Catholic church, the White House, etc. It’s great. It doesn’t take itself seriously and that’s what’s awesome about it.

Before digging into the finale, ‘Black and White,’ I do want to drop Cpt. Hook’s name in this review. He’s the producer behind this. I have immense respect for what he did with this content. VooDoo and Old School Rob are unbelievably likable and exciting characters and performers. This is undoubtedly the best production on an indie hip hop title I’ve heard this year. It brings those two to life. Hell, this trio is a powerhouse of epic proportions.

‘Black and White’ continues the infusion of funk and soul. It’s arguably the best song of the bunch: mostly due to its perfect balance. Cpt. Hook’s production and the two performers create terrific harmony on this song. It’s the closest thing to a ‘perfect’ hip hop song that I’ve reviewed this year.

I’m known for being a pretty critical writer. I often get frustrated emails from clients, artists, and bands when I’m constructive. Though I am tactful, I’m not afraid to put a bad piece of art in its place. I just can’t do that with this EP. It’s absolutely phenomenal - the satire and commentary is immensely satisfying and consistently entertaining. These three better keep a line open with me, because I see big things in their future.