“Dancing with the devil with my dog on my daily grind.” — Vin-O
This is my second time round with DC-native Vin-O. Last year I took you guys through his record Death Of A Poet, Birth Of A Gamesta, which was a super impressive listen. As I mentioned last time, his bio benefited from a co-sign and worked with producer Chuckie Thompson. Chuckie’s catalogue includes monster records like the “Flava In Ya Ear Remix” and “Big Poppa” from the heyday of Bad Boy Entertainment — and most recently the Biggie and Faith “collabo” The King & I. I had high hopes for his latest project, Truth, Understanding, Poetry, And Culture, which is actually a clever acronym for Tupac.
I wasn’t let down.
At 22 songs in length, there is a lot to get through. If you follow my writing, you’ll know how I feel about projects of this length; they demand quite a lot of attention. It’s a reason that many writers I know were shying away from reviewing the new DJ Khaled record. And that’s a star-studded affair — so imagine how most would react to a lesser known act?
While he may have tried to do a little too much on this LP, it’s done well. There is a healthy balance of self-actualization, retrospective outlook, love, storytelling, and real life shit. Production is solid, and helps him bob and weave through subject matter without it become too jarring.
There are standouts as you commit to the project. The “Welcome To The Mardi Gras” sampled “SummaTime N Da City” is grittier take on a seasonal ode. I could easily see this becoming one of the singles. “Sometimes I sit back and go wonder, could we not have a single Murder the whole summer,” he ponders on the track’s third verse.
Another big tune was “Me N My Mans,” which reminds me a lot of the Tupac track, “Pour Out A Lil’ Liquor,” if only just content wise. The production stands out, to me.
“Infamous” is another big song that comes quite early on in the track list. Notably, O notes that Chuckie gave him a beat meant for Biggie; however, he isn’t specific on which beat. That sounds like a whole story in itself
Other must-listen tracks are the piano-driven “Born Winner,” “3:10 AM in Forestville,” and the third-eye-open vibe of “Cold,” with its jazzy drum pattern.
Overall, it’s a solid release. Honest, detailed, and deeply personal at points. He also still manages to intersperse tracks like “Paranoia,” which is more of a club/street song. Vin-O is far from one-dimensional, which is refreshing!