POPO: Dope Boy Majick

Essentially, POPO has mixed several different genres together to achieve a singular sound—and that sound repeatedly fashions an infant-hipster version of Korn.


Dope Boy Majick

Label: Mad Decent
US Release Date: 2012-02-28
UK Release Date: 2012-02-28

It’s hard to talk about a band named POPO with a straight face. In fact, people may mistake POPO for a reference to the city police or perhaps a children’s circus clown. Starting off with three brothers and rapidly downsizing to one man, POPO is the creative vision of Zeb Malik, a Pakistani-born multi-instrumentalist and Philadelphia nursery school music teacher. Discovered by Trent Reznor, POPO has toured with bands and artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Theophilus London, and Sleigh Bells. Surprisingly and yet noticeably influenced by all three of these artists, POPO’s debut album, Dope Boy Majick, is an implausible collage of sound. While the album flaunts heavily distorted guitars, shrilling synths, choppy beats, and electrified Middle Eastern desert-like whines, every song seems to be altogether too daring. Some songs even vainly hint at the Ramones and the Kinks. Essentially, POPO has mixed several different genres together to achieve a singular sound—and that sound repeatedly fashions an infant-hipster version of Korn.

One thing is certain about Dope Boy Majick: first impressions are not this album’s strong suit. The first track’s title, "Dnt Wnt U, Jst Wnt It All", looks like a teenage text message, and the song sounds just as naïve. Pounding listeners with overly-distorted guitars and rigid drum beats combined with Malik’s nasally, elastic vocals, this song will make you cringe. Also layered with sounds from Malik’s Middle-Eastern heritage, the song sounds, at times, like snake charmer music or something from Disney’s Aladdin soundtrack. Completely encumbered with sound and reminiscent of Korn’s recent collaboration with Skrillex, "Dnt Want U, Jst Wnt It All" is at best charming the snakes, but certainly not the human ears it seeks to reach.

"Holy Mountain" is yet another track congested with excessively distorted guitars. The song starts off with a trilling bass riff, sounding like a tribal ritual, but soon surrenders to more wooly guitars and what sounds like rattling windows and amplifier feedback. As the song breaks into the chorus, Malik’s vocals falls into a flat, sour howl. Still boasting a Korn influence and a fruitless attempt at something akin to the Flaming Lips, whatever Malik’s spiritual mission was with “Holy Mountain” was lost in static.

However, other tracks on the album seem to find a more concentrated sound. The second track, "Final Fight", is undoubtedly channeled from Sleigh Bells’ debut album Treats. Some of the riffs seem to flawlessly mimic "Rill Rill". "Let’s Get Away" is also a nice vacation from the nebulous hell that comes out in some of the other songs on the album. It is sunny and catchy with soaring vocals, bouncy synths and beats. Truthfully, you’ll wonder if you’re still listening to POPO. The song sounds more like something by Neon Indian, but still not quite up to par. Malik sings "I will save you from yourself," and "Let’s Get Away" is definitely a rare moment of salvation on the album.

Dope Boy Majick has a few more of these moments in songs like "About U Boy" and "Bummer Summer". "About U Boy" introduces some punk and garage rock sounds to the album. Starting off with an upbeat guitar riff and running into choruses of "oh oh oh yeah", this song seems to be narrowly influenced by bands such as the Ramones and The Hives. Despite its Judy Bloom-esque name, "Bummer Summer" is another rare song to the album. The song feebly nods to the Kinks with a bright and coasting melody.

"POPONGUZU" and "Sik Sik Sik" definitely speak to POPO’s hip-hop influence, at least in instrumentation. A purely instrumental song, "POPONGUZU" is drowsy, sounding like a yawning video game, a dozing robot, or some kind of mechanical slumber. With its squeaky synths, clanky drums, and muffled vocal tones, "Sik Sik Sik" feels exactly like going through a car wash. These songs may get old fast, but at least they forgo the over-distorted guitar riffs that are so persistent on the rest of the album.

POPO’s Dope Boy Majick is a hodgepodge of musical influence that manifests as a disaster. In Zeb Malik’s defense, some of the songs on the album are interesting, but the album as a whole could have benefited from a little more focus and little less distortion. If you’ve ever been curious to know what a young hipster with a guilty pleasure for Korn sounds like, you’ll soon find out with POPO’s debut Dope Boy Majick.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.