Pill: Prefix Artist to Watch (P.A.W.)

    Whether the region and its fans would admit it or not, the South needs a new prominent voice in hip-hop now more than ever. Its two biggest — T.I. and Lil Wayne — seem stuck on taking turns in jail. And others, such as Ludacris and Gucci Mane (who’s also currently incarcerated), are mainstream-worthy cohorts. But generally, there is a lack of lyrical rap being pushed from below the Mason-Dixon line. Sure, newer acts such as B.o.B and Donnis offer a fresh take on hip-hop, but they are much more geared toward the hipster sect. That’s where Atlanta’s Pill comes in.

    Pill is an MC who fills the void left by the 1990s’ godfathers of Mafioso and gangsta rap, many of whom have passed on or retired from the game. On his sophomore mixtape, 4075: The Refill, he makes his appreciation for that breed of MC well known with his tributes to the Notorious B.I.G. and 2pac. And, his drawl aside, Pill is very much the southern embodiment of those two fallen giants. He combines their knack for creativity and harsh lyricism with their larger-than-life charisma, all of which comes together to provide gripping tales of street life. He is no biter, though. His delivery is far more steeped in the flow of Kool G. Rap — that kind of never-let-the-beat-breathe type of rapping.

    Pill packs his bars with clever wordplay, intricate lyricism, and supreme levels of internal rhyming, all of which are heard on The Refill standout “Hear Somebody Comin’.” In that track’s opening verse alone he spits, “If your ass ain’t first/ Then you’re last, Pippen/ Thirty-three ways to bullshit…/ Practice what he preachin’ when he speakin’, pulpitter.” Go ahead; wrap your head around that one.

    As previously mentioned, he also flaunts a level of charm that makes him more than just a rapper armed with skills. If he’s not dropping his molasses-drenched, slightly goofy “OK, den” adlib on tracks, he’s rapping about cocaine over Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” He transforms her doo-wop “oh-oh-oooooh” portions into “blow-oh-oooooh,” nearly cracking himself up in the process. It sounds natural, but few of his peers could pull it off so easily.

    If the popularity of Pill’s “Trap Goin’ Ham” proved anything, it’s that he is certainly next in line to blow-up in the South, and possibly, for that matter, the entire country. He’s in a rare class of MCs — paticularly nowadays, when our attention spans are diminishing like ignited wicks. Pill has the skills to become a hip-hop stalwart, offering proof that the South isn’t just about getting crunk and getting low. And while his two previous mixtapes have shown just that, it should become that much more evident with 1140: The Overdose and The Medicine, the latter of which serving as his proper full-length debut.

    Below, “Hear Somebody Comin’,” off 4075: The Refill.


    Our “Artist to Watch” column is our way of calling attention to new bands that deserve attention.