After having its debut, originally-titled Grown Kids Syndrome, delayed over the last couple years, California trio Pac Div (short for Pacific Division) have finally released their first proper album, The Div. Detached from Universal Motown, the group–made up of rappers Like, Mibbs and Be Young–dropped The Div on independent label RBC Records. On the excellent No ID-produced opener, “The Greatness,” Mibbs raps, “Man I will prevail when I got cousins in jail/ The IRS send me mail, but how the fuck can I fail/ When this is greatness?”
This sentiment floods The Div (does it speak to the album art?), and the group’s attitude is justified. They’ve dealt with the politics of working under a major label and, despite having their album shelved, continued to drop mixtapes and EPs throughout the ordeal. “How the fuck can I fail” is a good question because the Pac are being serious when they ask it–and not in a way any more arrogant than any other rap artist. Having stayed relevant while going through their rough spot–and presumably relieved to have a retail release now under their belt–Like, Mibbs and Be Young use this album to celebrate, paying no mind to whoever’s competing with them.
Outside of “Greatness,” other standout tracks are “Posted,” “Brown” and “Top Down,” a tweaked-out banger featuring fellow LA reps Casey Veggies and Skeme. But “Move One,” a song introduced as “our emo joint,” is also of note. It’s a relationship song, and it’s relatable, but it’s only an “emo joint” in the context of Pac Div. It comfortably occupies an emotional middleground: these dudes don’t sound corny and don’t sound like pussies.
Personal boasts, songs about girls (“She”) and weed meet well-deserved pats on the back (“High Five”) and target-less insults (the Asher Roth-assisted “Useless”). The Div sees a mix of covered topics, almost all of them laid over great production. With a beat courtesy of Blended Babies, “Useless” is sparse and cool, with plenty of crowd “ohhs” thrown in. Though others also contribute music, it’s Like and frequent collaborator Swiff D that provide The Div with some of its best backdrops.
Stylish and straight-forward, this album is a success. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a group that’s dropped better-than-average mixtapes (see Mania!) and finally got the opportunity to release something a little more polished. Pac Div has a strong chemistry that thrives off each member’s individuality. The rappers rarely stall on a track, keeping one another clever and fluid; the 12 songs–15 on the deluxe–move at an equally even pace. Mibbs, Be Young and Like don’t dwell on their label issues at all. On The Div‘s closer, “Thank You,” it’s evident they’d just rather push on and grow with their fans.