With ten years of street battles and night club gigs behind him, Chicago rapper and hip-hop artist PonyPak is now a veteran in his field. His new CD release, Words Are Power: Volume 1, is trailblazing a unique style of Rap music
PonyPak started DJ-ing and mixing house music tapes when he was in the eighth grade. That early start helped him develop a style that is pure PonyPak: thought-provoking, non-violent and perceptive lyrics set to the hottest beats coming out of Chi-Town. Fans won’t find any profanity in PonyPak’s words. It is not his style. Urban Intelligence is the message he wants to convey to his large following, both young and old. A recent Channel 19 Access performance in Chicago attracted a record number of viewers ranging from college students to 30-somethnig professionals.
The 12 original tracks that make up Words chicago rappe Are Power: Volume 1 are filled with raw honesty sheathed in hope. The opening track, This is Chicago, pays homage to PonyPak’s hometown and its deep-rooted people. By calling out street names and neighborhoods and using slang like “land of the ballers and champagne callers,” he gives a nod to the local scene. The use of ‘mafia sound’ and Spanish guitar is also a tribute to Chi’s rich history and diversity.
Slang-A-Ball is a fact- based, slamming urban narrative about growing up in the shadow of hustling – the lure of selling dope tempered by knowing the consequences. Meanwhile, Mack Please fuses classic jazz with today’s sound. The cut features different tracks; each blended with a verbal back scratch. The jazz version offers a mellow vibe against a smooth rap while the second half starts with a verbal back scratch that leads to the iconic “diamond in the back, sun roof top, digging the scene with a gangster lean” vibe.
On Don’t Hurt ‘Em, PonyPak puts the bass in your face, replicating a heavy car thumping beat with ‘electronika’ toys in the background. They are paired with cocksure lyrics like as “My verbal neurotoxins destroy your body language, and rip apart paragraphs with lyrical anguish.” At the other end of the spectrum, Splash proves a showcase for deep house music from the underground sounds of Chicago, featuring urban rhyming with syncopated sounds of old school.
The Real Mc Coy has a deep soul R&B sound merged with deep blues and a rap style that is smooth and engaging. On Splash II Remix, a thumping dance track merges with hot urban rhyming lyrics and metaphorical language and takes house music to another level with a cool motif synthesizer and an organic keyboard dance sound.
Headz Up spotlights PonyPak as MC producer with a rock-influenced lead guitar and heavy drum dynamics with an A Capella ending that adds to the song’s uniqueness. Self-Control takes the listener deep into PonyPak’s philosophical lyrics heard over a west coast R&B sound. Meanwhile, Mack 2 swings the mood to a Latin reggae dance vibe while Eternity maintains that reggae vibe using a cool flow and a fine use of rhyme and alliteration with a killer baseline.
No More offers thought provoking words about the war in Iraq and the anguish of the American people, particularly the wives, husbands, parents and children of dead soldiers. PonyPak parallels the war with the violence, death, injustice and inequality in America (“Killings,killings,killings troops and civilians” and “One billion dollars to rebuild another place”). It is perhaps the most powerful track of the album. The final cut, fittingly emphasizes the CD’s title and message: “Words Are Power.”
PonyPak is both humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to have his music heard and his message spread. His goal is to be part of the world’s music community that comes together to make music about love, hope, compassion and respect for human life. “There is a lot of pain and suffering in the world,” he comments. “Music can take people to another level of conscious existence.” He is adamant about his duty as an artist as reflected in his four-point manifesto:
1. PonyPak is about love, peace, and happiness.
2. The measure of a man is how God sees him.
3. Words are power. Be careful of what you say.
4. There’s life and death in the power of the tongue