Playdough is everywhere. Not only has he done collaborations with artists like Heath McNease and RedCloud, and been apart of several hip hop groups (Phonetic Composition, Ill Harmonics and Deepspace 5), as well as being an instrumental art supply when I was a kid, but he also has his own career. He first debuted his solo skills on his 2002 album Lonely Superstar, and then returned with his sophomore album last year, entitled Don't Drink The Water.
What exactly does Playdough mean by "Don't Drink The Water?" Does he want us to dehydrate? Not so much. It's a metaphor. The world offers us so much evil, but puts it out there with the label of "good." And we see it, and have the temptation to think "Oh, it looks like it's good for me, so it must be." But when we put it up to the light of God, we see it for the poison that it really is. As Playdough says in the title track of the album, "Hold that glass to the light and notice, what's blurred in the dark is exposed in focus, it's metaphoric but you can still take it literal, floating upside-down they poisoned the mineral." The theme of not drinking "the water" is expressed throughout the album. Most of it touches on the fickleness and fakeness of the world, from the expectations of what to look like in the title track ("What should I drive, what should I wear, we all care, what they say is alright so highlight your hair, do it just like this and wear your shirt like that, pull up your jeans magazines say you look too fat"), to the emptiness of today's popular music in "You Sound Funny" ("I'm only told once, to be quick and come up with an album the world wants, and so my crew flaunts bling while we sing, and keep it real cause we all know it ain't about skill").
Playdough's lyrical skills are hard to match. Incredible talent is present in his vocals and his flow. And he uses his gift to try to reach out to those lost in the world. In his song "Saddle Up," he says "So let's speak, what could be done to change this, and wake up the mind of today's teenagers." "Sandal Sole" is a song about the hardships of traveling ministry, from making little to money right on down to calling a nearby friend who has a place to stay for the night. It features great music and a fantastic beat, and it's accompanied by the vocals of none other than...Kevin Max? As strange of a pairing as this might sound, the former dc Talk member's unique and almost-eerie vocals mix well with the chorus of the song. Other favorites on the album include the infectious party song "Tip Your Hat," the slow but hard-hitting "The Difference," and "Huh!", which is the album highlight musically.
Whether it's the lyrics, the flow, the beats, or even the little spoken lessons featured at the end of several songs, there isn't much to not like on Don't Drink The Water. Brilliance shines through on every track from beginning to end. Definitely a recommendation for fans of great sound and production, as well as fans of good music. If you want comparisons to other artists, think of hip hoppers Mars ILL, Ohmega Watts, or The Procussions.- Review date: 10/4/07, written by Scott Fryberger
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