You can’t, or at least shouldn’t, grow up in northern New Jersey without becoming intimately familiar with the Cluck-U Chicken sauce list. Cluck-U is a restaurant so good they not only get away with calling themselves Cluck-U but get away with the slogan “WARNING: Our Wings Are an Addiction”.
They’re known for their BBQ sauces more than their buffalo which is rare for a chicken joint, but they they have a tangy sauce that gets better the more heat its got. I usually go for the mid level Cajun BBQ, moving up to Nuclear BBQ when I am trying to impress someone or down to Mild BBQ when I am being honest with myself. Never have I ever ventured all the way to the top of the menu however, where you’ll find the only sauce whose consumption requires a waiver signature, the 911 sauce. People who are able to take down a case of the 911 wings without tapping out or passing out get their meal comped and their picture put up on the Cluck U wall of champions, immortalized for all of eternity. So when on a recent episode of the Potluck YouTube show I saw the legend Pootie take down a full order of 911 wings and THEN spit an incredible (if not heavily censored) freestyle that only got more enticing the more it got pitched out of control, I knew his album was going to be something special.
Him and Roper Williams linked up for an eleven song 24 minute tape simply called P. While the two rep New Jersey the album feels like a 2019 take on a classic NYC hip hop album. Roper takes the reins on every beat on the tape using a combination of live instrumentation and choice sampling. They have samples here that bring my mind to the Wu Tang Clan and there are definitely Dipset vibes present as well, but the production all together feels most akin to a late 2000s mixtape, which I didn’t realize I was already nostalgic for. Roper sets the mood as Pootie brings us through a day in the life. We start early as hell in the morning even before we eat our first meal of the day. Pootie doesn’t care if you change on him because life will go on, nights will turn to days and he’ll still be grabbin Breakfast After This. YL ,who recently got shouted out in Pitchfork for his track with Roper Fly Out, kills his feature on this track, trying to win back a scorned lover with an early morning coffee and lemon cake. Roper do an incredible job getting the horn section involved both with the sax interludes in Breakfast After This and with the beautiful flute that is the backbone of Slapboxing At The Pearly Gates.
The album has two stand out tracks, the first being Rare Jazz. Here the “Roper Williams Band” provides Little Brother style jabs throughout the song while a crowd cheers faintly in the background. Pootie tries to leave the mic after one verse before the bandleader and crowd cheer him back, punctuating his next verse with “I’m shouting FREE MAX B till it’s the other way around,” which Roper accentuates with another flex of the saxophone that feels like its out of the Hey Arnold theme song. Pootie tries to bail out one more time before truly channelling his inner Action Bronson on his last verse, rapping about chilling with Usher in the drop top and wilding out like both his pops and the cops in the 80’s. It’s an incredibly charming track that feels like a scene out of the pilot for a Netflix series on Pootie’s career. The hilarious 1newmessage skit feels like the voicemail that Cam’ron’s girl would have left had he not picked up the phone, and it rolls into the album’s second stand out, Fila. On this track Roper utilizes another perfectly tuned vocal sample and another funky horn to compliment things as Pootie brings the heat. Hearing him scream “P- Double O – T – I // used to always rock Filas” feels like a cadence that would have got a NYC crowd bumping in 1989 just as hard as it does in 2019. Pootie closes out thanking everyone whose helped him and believed in him over a gorgeous soul sample with Have Faith In Me.
P is a personal and self reflective tape without being humorless. Pootie neither takes himself too seriously nor is afraid to show off his more tender side, and still drops bars along the way. Roper continues their personal hot streak with more pristine production that feel cohesive as an album without feeling at all repetitive. P brings the Cluck-U 911 level heat, as Roper Williams shows they’re among the strongest beat makers around and Pootie proves himself to be one of the more captivating story tellers coming up in rap right now.