Maxo Kream’s second LP “Punken” is a stellar improvement over his last LP, 2015’s “Maxo 187.” On “Punken,” Kream takes on the role of a storyteller, rapping about the brash reality of drug dealing and gangbanging in the city of Houston. “Punken” has many autobiographical elements that indicate these are stories about Kream’s own life. While this album features numerous “pusher anthems” that will satisfy his core fan base, it also shows that he is a well-rounded artist.
“Punken” provides a front seat to the harsh realities of drug dealing in America’s inner cities. On his track “Grannies,” he raps about living at his grandmother’s home after being kicked out of his parents’ home. “Grannies” has a subtle production that allows Kream’s flow to shine. This allows him to grab the listener’s attention with his catchy hook. It is a great example of how “Punken” has tracks with calmer production that accentuate Kream’s rhymes. “Capeesh” offers listeners a more traditional trap anthem. It features young thug-like auto tune lines during the chorus, along with a heavier production style.
It’s the tracks with more subtle production that are the most memorable. “Roaches” is an example of a track with simpler production that shows off Kream’s storytelling mixed with his trap style. Kream raps on the chorus, “Remember roaches in my ashtray and roaches in my cereal, Airforce knockoffs with the Gucci print material, Way before the iPhones, Twitter, ‘Gram socials, I’m talkin’ bout Nextel chirps and Boost mobiles, Back when the face tatts was for OG killas.” This chorus is thematic of the entirety of “Punken”–a tale fully detailing what it is like growing up around violence, gangs, and socioeconomic disparity.
The production on “Punken” is another detail that should not be overlooked. The album features samples from the likes of Tame Impala and The Wilderness, with production done by big names like Sonny Digital. “Punken” has the right amount of trap mixed with electronic and, of course, southern beats. A track such as “5200” features heavier beats, reminiscent of many southern hip hop instrumentals. On the other hand, tracks like “Grannies,” “Love Drugs,” and “Roaches” have more relaxed production. While many recent trap/hip-hop records are characterized by their heavy beats, these chiller production jobs are refreshing.
COVER PHOTO: Youtube