Thursday, September 30, 2010




What do you get when you have a hungry emcee from Harm City, ready and willing to release a debut album that is an open book? You get Heartless, ten succinct tracks from Baltimore lyricist P.O.E.T., who is preparing to do what most hip hop artists from Maryland’s largest city have been striving for: national acclaim. An emcee more akin to Drake and Lupe than Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame, P.O.E.T. is poised to reveal who he is, at least partially, through beats and rhymes. But who exactly is P.O.E.T.? What is he trying to say with Heartless?

P.O.E.T., whose real name is Kevin Gardner, starts the album on a high note with the aptly named “The Introduction (Part I)”. This song couples a dope lyrical flow with a beat that has an Italian gangster flick flair to it. “Fade To Black” serves as the second offering on Heartless, and this song touches upon the emotional and visionary side of the artist. With poignant lyrics that touch on personal trials and tribulations, P.O.E.T. delivers an everyman approach over a somber beat. Even the acronym for P.O.E.T., Persevering Over Everything, shows an artist that is not afraid to expose himself and overcome obstacles. The standout track on this album, in my opinion, is “In The Air (Hands Up)”, produced by Best Kept Secret, the D.C.-based production team that has worked very closely with new-school emcee Wale. The David Axelrod sample from “The Edge” provides the sonic backdrop for some of the best lyricism on the album, and this song has the potential to serve notice that Baltimore is ready to enter the hip hop spotlight.

There is a slight misstep on the fourth offering on the album. “Girl Of My Dreams” starts off strongly with music suited for a summer drive through the gritty streets of Baltimore, but falters once the male vocalist singing the chorus delivers a lackluster performance. However, P.O.E.T. does offer a few gems on this urban love song such as “she always know I’m with her even when I’m not around”. The title track of the album, “Heartless”, walks us down a path of love and pain that defines the mindset of this budding artist. The piano-driven track adds a soap-opera type aura to the title track, and it is a nice touch. You get the feeling when listening to this song that P.O.E.T. has been jaded by this game we call love, and he shares that jaded nature with all who dare to listen to his lyrics.

Next on the aural menu is “Feelin’ Me Now”, another Best Kept Secret-laced joint. This song serves as another potential club banger, with potent lyrics and the type of beat that lends itself to the Baltimore club scene. “Jump Off”, musically constructed by LexOfNP, a B-more based producer, is a cool, energetic song about leaving said club with a willing and able dimepiece. Unfortunately, the only downside with this song is the chorus, sung in a drunken style by the male vocalist. No disrespect, but these vocal faux pas detract from the overall flow of Heartless. However, keeping an open ear, the female vocalist on “Suicide/Heartbreak” balances the rock-flavored production, making for a solid song. On this song, P.O.E.T. spits lines like “the only feelings I emote is nothing but heartbreak”, giving the listener a glimpse into a man seeking love but ultimately falling short of that goal. He shows a side that only a few hip hop artists are willing to divulge.

Now this brings us to “Bad Guy Lives On”, the next to last song on Heartless. As the title suggests, “Bad Guy Lives On” is the story of a so-called “bad guy” that has encountered one too many scornful women, and decides to ditch the good guy persona to cover the pain of love. This leads to the final offering on the album, “The Fame” (another LexOfNP production), an ode to the trappings of fame and fortune. You can definitely hear the Drake-inspired production with this song, and it is fitting closing to this first musical chapter for P.O.E.T. The chorus for the song pretty much sums up what P.O.E.T. is about-----”P.O.E.T., I persevere over everything, I put that on anything”. Words to live by indeed.

Overall, Heartless is a dope debut by an artist that many may not know presently.  However, come October 5th, 2010, listeners will get the golden opportunity to witness a Harm City emcee unleash lyrical wit and aural beats that the current hip hop generation can appreciate. Heartless is a solid B when it comes to my "School Of Hard Knocks" rating system. Cop the album on October 5th!



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