I love how my generation is determined to continue the tradition of the rap collective. Here, the easy comparison would be to measure PNTHN (pronounced ‘PANTHEON’) against BROCKHAMPTON or Odd Future, but the collective genius group from San Marcos, Texas possess far too much potential to sideline them with what we’ve already tasted. Since their formation in March of 2017, the rap group has to come be a sonic amalgamation of Southern rap, 90s hip hop, soul music and new school sounds. In a city already rich with culture, PNTHN is carving its way in the bubble of Texas hip hop that’s getting ready to burst. The ten members of the group — seven rappers and three producers — work together to seamlessly blend New York-style rapping over Texas-style production, creating a unique style the region has been waiting for. It’s a flavor I’ve been waiting on too.
‘Potluck’ opens with the low-swinging, high-hat, heavy bass “CHUMBUCKET”, a song that effortlessly sets the tone for the 6-track EP. Imbuing all the delight and grandeur of youth, easily my favorite track on the EP, “VILGANTES”, which lulls its audience with a gorgeous background of pianos and synths. I would declare here, one of PNTHN’s greatest superpowers is the ability to move as a single collective voice through various bodies, yet it never feels rehearsed. There’s a natural synergy, a single thread, which binds them all together. Perhaps you could even call it a trust fall of music, how each vocalist knows when to pick up the song right as the other passes off the baton. Another delight in this song are all the allusions to some of childhood loves: the legendary Pokemon, Zapdos, Spiderman, Dirty Bubble (from Sponge Bubble), Aqauaman, Man Ray, Barney Rubble (of The Flintstones), etc. and also this gem of a bar: “I hate to save the day when I barely just clocked in”.
Some tracks are more playful than meditative such track three “MEWTWO”. An anthem brimming with bravado and bombast declarations, each voice delivers the hook at a more erratic pace compared than where the EP has been headed so far. Much like a group of young men horsing around and seeking to impress one another, each voice on this track is much more distinctive, seeking to prove their ever-growing greatness. “VALENTINA” picks up the upbeat pace once again with sharp high-hats and the transition between the previous track and this one shows me emotional range is one of PNTHN’s greatest assets. Tyler, The Creator here feels like a heavy influence on this specific track.
Six tracks proves to be the exact sweet spot for PNTHN’s sophomore EP. This choice shows me two things: one, the collective is very aware of who they are in music, they’re aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and two, it makes me wonder if they too feel they still have lyrics to go. Overall, I found this EP to be exciting, playful, and rich in sonic dexterity. I’m so fascinated to watch their growth as a group and I can’t wait to see what other offerings they have to give the world.
You can listen to ‘Potluck’ here:
I.S. Jones is a writer living in New York by way of California. Please send her pizza, not nudes. Her inbox (on Twitter) is always open, so send her a track or a hello. She is hanging in there and is grateful for hip-hop. Tweet at her here