Potluck: Pipe Dreams

[11 June 2009]

By Quentin B. Huff

You know how you’re not supposed to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach because your hunger will cause you to buy more than you intended? Well, you’re not supposed to critique albums when you’re angry, or else you might take your anger out on the CD. That is, unless you’re zoning out to Potluck (1Ton and UnderRated), the pride of Humboldt County, California’s hip-hop scene. You can listen to them when you’re upset. In fact, I recommend it. They might not blow your mind or make you feel like you’re listening to a new hip-hop paradigm, but they’ll make you laugh a little, think a little, and nod your head a lot.

The Potluck modus operandi, like label mates the Kottonmouth Kings, is to make an awful lot of songs about smoking weed (“Hot Box Anthem”, “Smoke the Pain Away”, “I Say Yes to Drugs”). Surprisingly, at least for such a familiar topic, none of the group’s weed smoking anthems are cringe worthy. Some display a humorous but poignant self-awareness (“I Gotta Problem”), and some are (yep, you guessed it) kind of dope.

While their love for marijuana occupies a prominent portion of their aptly titled album, Pipe Dreams, there’s another side to this crew. I don’t know if the weed inspires their deeper thoughts or not, but they reflect on dating, love, and relationships as well. They aren’t afraid to get political either, Illuminati-style, and you’ve got to give it up for their heartfelt tribute to their fathers.

There are a few more “b*tch” and “hoe” references than I’ve come to associate with the crew (“Stoner B*tch”, for example, is like a weed lover’s version of Apache’s “Gangsta B*tch” from back in the day), but if you’re ever in the market for a mixed bag of weed, humor, love, and politics, you can add a point to my overall rating. My favorite tracks are “STFU” (I’m definitely playing this “shut the f*ck up” tell-off for the know-it-alls in my life), “Computer Love” (a cagier examination of online dating and sensuality than Lil’ Kim’s “Download”), “Be Easy” (a message to the wannabe tough guys: yo, be careful about who you’re messin’ wit’), and “2 Minute Drill” (UnderRated flows nonstop in battle mode with a little somethin’ to prove).

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/potluck-pipe-dreams/