You have to own For Free, the debut album from Raleigh’s Pro-L, for three reasons. For one, it is white boy hip-hop audacity personified. The second is that the instrumentation (featuring trained sitar player Viswas Chitnis) and production by the beatgeek and 006 are uncompromisingly original. Thirdly, while it is for sale in local stores, you can get it for free (at www.wolfshare.com/prol/).This is the kind of hip-hop record that white boys should make. White rappers usually run into one of two problems. They either try to hide their whiteness, thereby clumsily calling attention to it (Third Bass), or they play nerdy anomolies (Paul Barman) in order to cover their racial anxieties. Pro-L, intelligent and inventive, don’t fall victim to these traps, and avoid being self-important in the process.
You will, however, have three problems with For Free. The first is that Pro-L has some work to do as lyricists (the double-time rhyming on “Rip it in Half” is questionable, and Non Profit should consider taking a back seat to B Nice). Goofy choruses (“Stress’n Me”) are problem number two. The third is that the instrumentation and production sometimes gets showy, leaving the emcees behind to enter their stoned reveries.
These problems, however, are the result of the courage, honesty and playfulness that last throughout. For Free sounds, in the best way possible, like the kind of record a bunch of guys skipped class to make. This innovative album, while problematic, justifies their playing hooky. They were probably talking over their teacher’s head anyway.