ARTIST: Pac Div
ALBUM: Church League Champions
FUN FACT: For their official upcoming debut album, Grown Kids Syndrome, Pac Div is going to be working with a couple heavy hitters including the Neptunes who they will be recording with in Miami.
WHY COMPLEX IS CO-SIGNING IT: Two reasons, really. First off, even with their freshly inked deal with Universal Motown and forthcoming production from some of the biggest producers in the industry, this LA based trio considers themselves to be underdogs in the rap game. And they're right. At a time when most of raps fresh faces are endorsed by the industry's major players (Jay, Kanye, Weezy), it's hard to see how an artist—a rap group, no less!—who's truly standing on their own two (or six), can break into the spotlight. That's where the second reason comes into play: these dudes make really dope music...
Made up of brothers Like and Mibbs along with schoolyard friend BeYoung, Pac Div's second mixtape continues on with songs detailing their pre-rap life of menial day jobs, getting played by girls and the grueling upkeep that comes along with being fly and broke. If you've heard "Mayor," the first release off Church, you already have an idea of the tape's aesthetic. Although only in their mid-20s, Pac Div, along with in house producer Swiff D, root their sound in early '90s LA rap. When breezing through the track list and stopping at songs like "Pac Div," with its tightly looped, pulsating sax and drums that beat you back to a time before auto-tune, or the misty "Whiplash," you'll immediately get a Souls of Mischief vibe.
However, while there's a clear love of the old, Pac Div, like a 1968 Camaro with a brand new LS3 engine under the hood, refits the music for 2009. The drums are crisper, the sounds found swirling through some of the beats are newer and the raps are, well, let's just say these dudes can rap their ass off. All three of them. There'll be no need to fast forward through any of the members verses. It also helps that the subject matter extends beyond aspirations of flyness and girls. The obviously BlackStar influenced, blatantly titled "Young Black Male" has them speaking on the day-to-day bullshit that comes with being young and black in America—a tired subject, yeah, but a fresh take nonetheless thanks to some subtle humor ("I ain't tryna get murdered, I ain't tryna stack birds, I ain't tryna grab your ass, girl, I'm tryna grab hers—oops"). We know they're now signed to a major and all that, but let's just hope that as Pac Div leave their underdog status behind, they keep hunger that helped produce work like this.
KEY TRACKS (LISTEN):