A lot has changed for Pi’erre Bourne in between installments 3 and 4 of his Life of Pi’erre album series. The Life of Pi’erre 3 came out Christmas 2016, and two and a half years real time might as well have been to two decades in the Soundcloud hyperbolic time chamber. TLOP3 was before Magnolia took the country by storm and before Pi’erre had to sue 6ix9ine for 75% of the royalties on GUMMO, which unfortunately also took the world by storm. He’s produced tracks for everyone from Young Nudy to Kanye West since, and was named one of the top producers of 2018 by XXL mag. Where Pi’erre has emerged as one of rap’s most exciting new producers, he has kept his rapping sparse since TLOP3. He’s only rapped on a handful of tracks since, popping up with features on Right Now and Top off of Playboi Carti’s Die Lit and quietly splitting a pretty solid tape with Cardo late last year. The Life of Pi’erre 4 is Pi’erre’s first foray into rapping for a full tape since, well, The Life of Pi’erre 3, and luckily Pi’erre’s artistry has grown as much as his career has.
TLOP4 is a wholly singular artistic vision. Pi’erre takes the reins on every beat and provides vocals on every track without a single feature or co-production credit. His producer tags litter every track, and “Yo Pi’erre you wanna come out here?” will undoubtedly be branded into your subconscious by the time the tape ends. He even goes as far as working as his own DJ, doing Trap-a-holics styled “DAMN PI’ERRE WHERE’D YOU FIND THIS?” “DAMN, I’M LOST IN THE SAUCE” and “THATS WHAT THE F(DJ scratch) IM TALKIN ABOUT” drops, among others. These DJ drops are extremely well done and have me wondering if Pi’erre paid the Trap-a-holics guy to get authentic updates. The drops also usually come at the end of the tracks, as Pi’erre tends to blend one beat and lead it into the next. It makes the whole album feel cohesive, like you are sprawling through Pi’erre’s world as it constantly changes around you rather than having him drop you into new world after new world track after track. The DJ drops and beat blending used together really make TLOP4 feel like the Soundcloud generation’s update of the mid 2000s mixtape. Not since The Dedication 5 (or maybe 6 I didn’t listen) have DJ drops been used this frequently in a rap tape, and DJ’s used to love blending beats into one another like DJ Wreckineyez did on Asher Roth’s classic tape Seared Foie Gras with Quince & Cranberry. It is the kind of the thing that will either help people really get into the tape or will fully push them away from it, but I absolutely think it makes for a refreshing and at times honestly hilarious listen. Pi’erre kept with the mixtape theme as much as to even drop skits at the end of these tracks here and there as the beat is transitioning, including a particularly funny one on How High where him and Lil Uzi Vert ask a girl to say “Pi’erre, you wanna come out here?” over and over, much to her confusion.
The production is still the highlight of the tape, though Pi’erre doesn’t pull anything particularly crazy from his bag of tricks, as he usually is wont to do. I don’t think that the tape is missing out from the lack of off the wall production however, as on a tape like this I could imagine it being a distraction. Pi’erre’s normal production is still interesting enough on its own, and it provides a good floor for him to dance on with his vocals. He uses the rap-sing style that has become near ubiquitous these days, sounding different parts Uzi, Carti, and Trippie. At times Pi’erre can sound a little too much like one of the aforementioned influences, but he does a good job keeping his sound varied and there are far more hits than misses. It starts off with one of the strongest tracks on the tape, Poof, where he tells a girl she can be his Topanga. The snippet for this track was among the reasons people were most excited for this tape, and it absolutely lived up to the hype. While Pi’erre isn’t the most lyrical rapper here or frankly on the rest of the tape (shortly after the Topanga line he says him and the girl have history like Mr. Feeny, leaning in a little too hard) Pi’erre has an excellent ear for melody and makes whatever he is saying as enjoyable to listen to as possible. The one track where he gets into some storytelling is the same one where he drops the singing and the autotune, Juice. Here he raps about how when he moved to Atlanta he lived out of his Escalade and how even when he found a place his friends betrayed him. It’s still an affirmative track about what he’s come from and what its taken to get to where he’s at now, and I if anything I wish that we saw more of this story telling side of Pi’erre on this tape.
What Pi’erre has been able to do with TLOP4 is truly impressive. While he isn’t the world’s best rapper he is definitely one of the world’s best producers, and has undoubtedly put out a great rap album without a modicum of help on any aspect of the project. It is among this years best sounding and most unique rap albums, and opens an entire new lane for the young artist to pursue. No wonder it has him feeling like Kanye.