In an era dominated by fleeting trends and disposable music, Percee P’s debut album Perseverance stood out as a testament to the enduring power of Hip Hop. With a rich history in the genre and an unyielding dedication to his craft, Percee P delivers a lyrical tour de force that showcases his incredible talent and celebrates the essence of true Hip Hop. This review explores the artist’s background, looks at his impact on the Hip Hop scene, and delves into the brilliance of Perseverance.
Born as John Percy Simon in 1969, Percee P emerged from the South Bronx, the hotbed of Hip Hop culture, during the early 1980s. Growing up in an environment teeming with musical inspiration, he was immersed in the sounds of pioneers like Grandmaster Caz, Melle Mel, KRS-One, and Rakim. Percee P honed his craft in the local rap battles and open mic sessions, perfecting his intricate rhymes and flawless flow. Percee P gained prominence in the late 1980s, catching the attention of Hip Hop luminaries such as Lord Finesse and Big Daddy Kane.
Percee P’s impressive skills earned him a spot in the legendary Stretch and Bobbito radio show freestyle session in 1991 and saw him delivering an epic guest verse on “Yes You May” from Lord Finesse’s Return of the Funky Man (1992). This verse and a couple of other memorable guest spots on albums from artists like Aesop Rock, Jurassic 5, Edan, and Jedi Mind Tricks in the 1990s and early 2000s further solidified his reputation as a formidable emcee.
A now legendary battle between Lord Finesse and Percee P took place in the late 1980s in The Patterson Projects. Both showcased their lyrical prowess, engaging in a clash of styles and personalities. Lord Finesse brought a smooth and suave demeanor, while Percee P exuded intense and ferocious energy. The battle, filled with clever wordplay and intricate rhyme schemes, highlighted the essence of true Hip Hop. Although no definitive winner was declared, the impact of their battle was profound. It solidified their reputations as elite emcees and inspired future generations of battle rappers. The Lord Finesse versus Percee P battle remains an iconic moment, symbolizing the raw talent and unyielding passion that defined the golden era of Hip Hop. The 2003 ‘rematch’ video the two did also is a memorable Hip Hop moment.
Despite the recognition, Percee P experienced setbacks and struggled to release his own solo material. However, his perseverance paid off when he collaborated with producer and DJ Madlib, resulting in the critically acclaimed single “Throwback Rap Attack” in 2005. This collaboration acted as a springboard for his debut album, Perseverance, released on Peanut Butter Wolf’s Stones Throw Records in 2007.
Perseverance embodies Percee P’s mastery of the art form, showcasing his unparalleled lyrical prowess. From the opening track, “The Hand That Leads You” to the album closer “The Lady Behind Me” the album captivates listeners with its raw and authentic approach. Percee P’s flow is razor-sharp throughout, effortlessly weaving complex rhymes and multisyllabic patterns over Madlib’s soulful, sample-based production. His at times quirky beats pay homage to the classic boom-bap era, incorporating soulful samples and hard-hitting drums that serve as the perfect canvas for Percee P’s lyrical onslaught. The cohesive and well-crafted production elevates the album to another level, complementing Percee P’s delivery flawlessly.
In an industry often criticized for lacking substance, Perseverance turned out to be a breath of fresh air. Percee P’s lyrical content tackles social issues, self-reflection and personal growth, and the challenges of pursuing a career in Hip Hop. Tracks like “Last of the Greats” and “No Time for Jokes” demonstrate Percee P’s ability to deliver thought-provoking messages without sacrificing his impeccable wordplay. Throughout the album, Percee P’s passion for Hip Hop shines through. His dedication to the art form is palpable, as he seamlessly navigates through intricate rhyme schemes and effortlessly switches up his flow.
The album also boasts an impressive lineup of guest appearances, further enriching the listening experience. Collaborations with esteemed artists such as Guilty Simpson, Vinnie Paz, Diamond D, Chali 2na, Prince Po, and Aesop Rock add layers of diversity and dynamic energy to the project. Each guest brings their unique style and perspective, creating memorable moments that enhance the album’s overall cohesion. These collaborations not only showcase Percee P’s ability to collaborate seamlessly with other artists but also highlight his stature and respect within the Hip Hop community.
Perseverance is a masterpiece that showcases Percee P’s unwavering commitment to Hip Hop and his extraordinary talent as an emcee. The album’s timeless quality, impeccable lyricism, and kickass production make it a standout contribution to the genre. It serves as a reminder of the power of perseverance and the lasting impact of true artistic integrity. Percee P’s journey in Hip Hop, from battling in the streets of the South Bronx to releasing a celebrated album, is a testament to the indomitable spirit of an artist who refused to be silenced. Perseverance encapsulates his resilience, paying homage to the golden era of Hip Hop while pushing the boundaries of lyricism.
In a landscape saturated with commercialized sounds, Percee P’s Perseverance stands tall as a beacon of authenticity and a testament to the enduring power of Hip Hop. This album is a must-listen for anyone who appreciates the art of lyricism. It is a sonic journey that encapsulates the essence of true Hip Hop and solidifies Percee P’s place as one of the genre’s unsung legends.
This is a classic. Wish Percee P would drop another album one day.