There is a level of everyday humanity often absent from Hip Hop music; that’s understandable, especially if you’ve been following the twist, turns, and dysmorphic transformations the culture has taken. Once big industry moved in, things got glitzy. There are plenty of artists who happen to share a connection to the old-world order. One who I’ve taken in quite consistently when approached by him is Mr. P Chill — a Sacramento native whose been on the grind since the 80s. Now in his 40s (46 to be exact, as he reveals in a vat on his new LP), his music continues to grow and reflect his life as it is; that is the backbone of the charm dripping from his recently released L.I.F.E. – Living In Fragile Environments, the follow-up to 2018’s Funky Uncle Chill.
His 11-song, fourteenth release (consisting of new and already released material) teeters on a brink; he sounds understandably worn out [not in a bad way] from what’s been a 28-year roller coaster while remaining sonically dedicated and endearingly energized in attempting to find his talk through the challenges of finding his space within the sphere of Hip Hop culture.
The years spent on his craft are weaved throughout the set, “This Circus,” for example. But his journey is only a part of this album’s narrative; there is resilience and conviction in the face of the current climate — like contemplating the connection between the murky uncertainty of the American health system and his mortality on the unexpectedly deep “Morning Coffee.” He also shares commentary on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and initial 2020 lockdowns on “Social Distancing.”
Still, the project hits its stride at its political fare, and its line posse cut Subliminal — featuring J.Smo, AlphiyOda1, and Mike Colossal. “Millions of Militants” is an audible pledge of solidarity with the Black Lives Movement and a call to take up arms in the ever-raging war against injustice. The clever layering of the Chuck D sample creates an almost hypnotic effect on the beat.
Speaking of the beats, Mr. P Chill is excellent on the boards; taking the song “Diggin’ (Crate Digger’s Anthem)” at face value, you can almost picture him assembling the loops that became the project’s soundscape.
Many reflective themes on the LP may go over the head tops of youthful listeners; there is something so necessary about his perspective. The project caps off with “Reflections.” It’s a look at where he’s from, a show of appreciation for those who’ve helped him, and a sign his tank is far from empty. “28 years so far, and I’ve got another 28 years in me at least,” he notes as the album wraps.
Age doesn’t count in the booth — and the music feels better when it comes from the heart. L.I.F.E. indirectly anneals itself to both points. As long as the love remains intact, and the world continues to precariously wade in perpetual volatility, it’s unlikely his pen will stop moving anytime soon.