For most people, when Roots drummer and producer ?uestlove [click to read] hops on Okayplayer and offers to make 23 friends listen to your debut album at gunpoint for three days straight–after admittedly listening to it seven consecutive times himself–the safe thing to do is not alter your formula. Waajeed and Saadiq of Platinum Pied Pipers are apparently not interested in safety. And we should all thank the Hip Hop gods or whatever musical deity you deem appropriate for their abandon.
Triple P‘s sophomore offering, Abundance, has all of the qualities found in the Neo-Soul songs you sneak off to download (live instrumentation, great vocals and relevant subject matter) without the bourgeois vibe, weird titles or the smell of Nag Champa incense. The Gospel-flavored intro tracks, “Angel” and “Smoking Mirrors” are the first stops on what turns out to be a world tour of genres ranging from ’60s Funk (“On a Cloud”) to Salsa (“The Ghost of Aviero”).
This isn’t a Hip Hop album per se, and you won’t find a 16 anywhere on it. Jamilah Raegan, Neco Redd, Karma Stewart and Coultrain have been added to the rotation to do the bulk of the work on vocals, which provides a more consistent sound. But PPP lovers shouldn’t worry, as the album still knocks. Instead of what sounded like mellowed-out Jeep beats with rapped verses and really good, extended hooks, Saadiq and Waajeed took their MPC wizardry and crafted whole songs with crescendos, bridges and well-placed instrumental breaks. The edge that Dilla, MED and Sa-Ra Creative Partners [click to read] provided with their presence is gone. But much like the revamped Foreign Exchange [click to read] sound, the project has the feel of something that has evolved after being birthed in Hip Hop.
Most importantly, this is an adult album. Men can listen to this with their windows down without having their manhood questioned, and ladies should enjoy the candid, empowered lyrics that don’t sound like they were penned by the neighborhood jumpoff. On “Countless Excuses,” when you hear, “Oh I can’t drink you away/you’re a distraction flooding my fantasies every hour of the day,” anyone who has tipped a few cups to numb their relationship troubles should be able to relate.
There are not too many groups who can cover the topics of religion, relationships, pimping and everything in-between. And sometimes the same risk-taking works against PPP, but these moments are so sparse that you don’t want to penalize them for successfully crafting an album that doesn’t sound like anything else out right now. When it’s all said and done, that’s really the worst thing you can say about the Platinum Pied Pipers. It’s unfortunate that the industry’s current climate probably won’t reward their efforts with a plaque to match their name, but that shouldn’t stop you from buying this album. If you’re a friend of ?uestlove, you should either clear three days on your calendar for a vacation or prepare for the worst.