POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2009:
Word to the Wise
PDA uses his creative freedom and proves his talent with Act III: Wasted Talent
Word. "... I think Act III is better in that it's more emotionally driven and more cohesive," said PDA. "As far as lyrics go, things haven't changed that much. I try to say things in a fairly smart manner so everyone can get it, as opposed to some serious backpack rappers who are so lyrical and smart that it goes over people's heads."
Although it's been more than two and a half years since PDA released his last album and graced the cover of Urban Tulsa, his life has been far from silent during that time. I told you then: "Memorize this face and remember it. It's one you'll see a lot of in the near future." That promise did not go unrealized.
Hometown highlights include numerous headlining club shows, three repeat feature appearances at DFest and the Tulsaoriginalmusic.com showcase, not to mention a spotlighted opening for Akon's sold-out Expo Plaza show in April 2007.
The local hip-hop hero also was picked up for a three month cross-country jaunt opening for Critical Bill in the fall 2007. He made an East Coast run with Crash Romeo and then also paired with a number of other MySpace record acts for various national treks during the past two years.
Along the way, PDA has built an ever expanding fan base and found a welcome oasis in the Houston and San Antonio markets, which have nearly adopted him as their own. Nevertheless, Tulsa is where he still remains supreme.
Even so, he hasn't let his success go to his head. The 2007 Spot Award winner of "Best Hip Hop Artist" and "Album of the Year" was also a multiple category nominee at the 2009 ABoT Music Awards last August. Understandably confident in his abilities, he's also humble enough to be openly grateful for opportunities to collaborate with other local artists. Although he won't take credit for it, PDA's success has arguably opened a door for peers such as X-Cal and this year's ABoT Music Award winner Kawnar to see mainstream acceptance.
In fact, he and Kawnar have a long standing collaborative history, which culminated in the spring release of A Hard Week's Night, where the pair reworked a fistful of The Beatles tunes and barreled through the entire creative process: arrangements, recording and all in a mere week. Once again, however, it was only the beginning of what has proven to be a busy year for PDA.
In April, work began on what would become Act III: Wasted Talent, the follow-up to his local breakthrough disc, Act II: A Different Victim. According to PDA, although the finished product (completed in August) has come together in the past seven or eight months, it's actually an accumulation of ideas that he's compiled since finishing Act II more than three years ago.
"The reason it took so long," he said, "is I originally had a totally different idea for the album. Then, I decided I didn't want to use a bunch of samples and worry about having to clear them."
Also on his mind was the matter of creative freedom and proving his talent. "A lot of people still really like 'Get Together' and a couple others off the last album, which is great," he said. "This time, though, I wanted to be able to put stuff out and if people like a song, I can honestly say it's mine."
With nearly an album's worth of songs left behind (which he confides might eventually be released as free downloads) and a refocused vision, Act III became a different monster altogether. Not only is it a departure from its original concept, but it's a world away from its predecessor.
Whereas A Different Victim was a sprawling, 72 minute, 17-track morality play; Wasted Talent is focused and concise: 12 tracks, clocking in at less than 54 minutes. Amidst their differences, when compared, the two pieces have a shared commonality--both are very deliberate in their construction.
Even when discussing the two works, PDA is torn in which he believes is the better product. "On Act II I got to do everything I wanted to do and follow up on every idea I've wanted to follow since I began in music. That's why I don't think I'll ever do better, or at least until I have a much bigger budget."
On the other hand, he said, "In some aspects, though, I think Act III is better in that it's more emotionally driven and more cohesive.
"As far as lyrics go, things haven't changed that much. I try to say things in a fairly smart manner so everyone can get it, as opposed to some serious backpack rappers who are so lyrical and smart that it goes over people's heads.
"I think I've really changed in structure more than anything," he said. "With the last album, I wanted to do so many things. It ended up with 17 songs, but I felt like every one of them had to be on there for different reasons."
Even the songs that seem less casual pass fit and make sense when the album is listened to as a whole, but that's exactly the point. "With this album," he said, "every song connects and works together. I've played 'Swerve Mode' for a few people who didn't initially like it, but when they listened to the whole album, they were like, 'Damn, now I get why it's there!'
"With Act III, there are only 12 tracks because that's what I thought needed to be on there, so I focused all of my attention on those songs."
What comes as a result is compact and hard-hitting with at least three obvious singles in "My Girlfriend" (probably the most immediate of the disc), "It Sucks" and "It's OK," and at least three other tracks to possibly consider. The rest of the disc ties it all together.
Possibly even more promising is how the new material will reshape PDA's live performance. "This album actually helps the live show. Before I started work on the album, we had our most solid live show yet. We could take it anywhere and it would work. Now it's like starting over, which sucks, but at the same time, it's exciting," he said. "The new set starts out pretty much like the album, only a little more epic, then goes into 'Lush' and cuts loose from there."
While he and live drummer Cramberg are still ironing the wrinkles, he knows that they'll still accomplish what his goal with the live show has always been - creating an experience. Of course, not all of the old songs will fall away.
Fans won't let old favorites like "Dollar Bill" and "Get Together" disappear altogether, but with a more concise album to work from, the live set promises to become even more focused and dynamic.
Fans can find out for themselves when PDA holds the release party for Act III: Wasted Talent Friday night, September 18 at The Marquee. Dallas funk band Big Red Rooster opens the show at 8:30pm, followed by local rapper CO2 and XV, from Wichita, who PDA calls "one of the coolest rappers I've ever seen." The first 50 to arrive receive a free copy of the CD. Anyone else can purchase the disc for an additional $3 at this weekend's show only.
Plan on arriving early and staying late.
As summer comes to an end, it's time for one last hurrah before it gets cold, and BOK Center is doing its part to keep the spirit alive. This weekend the arena hosts the Rock & Rib Festival presented by Rib Crib from Thursday, September 17 thru Sunday afternoon. Admission is $3 after 1pm Thursday and Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.
The weekend features Eric and the Blasters, Admiral Twin, Mid Life Crisis and My Solstice on Thursday; Travis Kidd, Something Steel, Livebait and Sam & the Stylees on Friday; South 40, John Moreland, Turnpike Troubadours and Red Dirt Rangers on Saturday and finally, Earl Clark on Sunday. Check it out if you're in the mood to eat, drink and make merry. For more information, see "Smokin' Hot" on page 34.
At last, we get to another weekend and we've got plenty to get you out the door. Although Thursdays can be slow, you've still got a few options: William Joseph Band at Rehab, Cairde Na Gael at Arnie's, Boombox with Tech Tonic and DJ Jason Sterling at Bob's or Sinbad with his standup routine at Osage Event Center.
On Friday night, PDA takes center stage at The Marquee, but indie fans can check out La Panther Happens at Soundpony, while Americana and Honky Tonk fans enjoy Jackson Taylor Band at Mercury Lounge. If you're looking for a party, try Smunty Voje and Dogsway at CJ Moloney's or Sugar Free All-Stars at Arnie's.
Saturday, September 19, offers another vibe altogether. Amongst the highlights are The Gourds with Ramsay Midwood at Bob's, a dual CD release party for Hospice and Remains of Yesterday at The Marquee and Billy Joe Winghead at Mercury Lounge. Your best bet, however, is to stop in at Flytrap and see the best band we wish was from Tulsa, Denton's Oso Closo, visiting town to celebrate the release of its new CD, Today is Beauty's Birthday. If you caught these guys at DFest, you know this will be the stealth show of the week.
Finally, the week wraps up with a couple of cool shows at Cain's. First up, Silversun Pickups headlines the Ballroom on Tuesday, September 22, with Manchester Orchestra and Cage the Elephant for support. The next night, Jason Boland and the Stragglers celebrate the music of Don Williams with a host of Red Dirt friends, including: Stoney Larue, Mike McClure, Red Dirt Rangers, Brandon Jenkins, Wade Bowen and Corey Morrow. It will certainly be a tribute to a great country songwriter and a perfect occasion to catch all your Red Dirt favorites together on one stage.
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