Music’s like boxing. The right combination scores a knockout. The wrong one gets you knocked out. Blow by blow, your hits should be fluid. That way, each punch has greater impact than the last.
That said, Laila Ali would whup Queen Pen’s ass. The inconsistent performance of Conversations with Queen, her sophomore album, leaves too many openings. She drops her guard on tunes including “P***y Ain’t For Free,” recycling the fatigued theme of the vagina as a woman’s bargaining chip. “Warn U” and “I Got Cha” are battle cries to unnamed persons with whom QP apparently has a beef. That’s tired also. Too many hip-hop fans are tired of spending their money to hear rappers bicker.
Every now and then, QP throws a good punch. “QP Walks” shows that Queen Pen does have punching power, but it uses the proven formula of an old-school loop to make its point. It isn’t until the hard-hitting “Baby Daddy” that she shows real creative flair. The most enjoyable moments are the skits, where other, male rappers ask Queen to participate in threesomes with their wives, and she responds by considering giving them “brain” (read: head) instead. It’s shock value and it’s predictable, considering how she spends the majority of the album punching at 60 percent strength.
The wild punches that expose her chin are “Revolution” and “True.” On the former, she raps about social change. Then “True” uses a Spandau Ballet sample to contemplate her blessings in life. One song later, she’ll claim that her music is what you wanna hear while cookin’ up rocks. What the hell kind of blessed revolution is that?
In the end, Queen Pen loses the fight. She tries too much and a knockout combination ends up landing right on her chin.
E-mail Khary Kimani Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.