After being in the grime scene for almost a decade, and producing over 15 mixtapes, EPs and singles, P Money has finally released his first full length album, Live & Direct. With appearances from Boy Better Know members Wiley, JME and Solo 45, in addition to grime powerhouse Stormzy, this record has some big names featured, and yet P Money still manages to shine through, showcasing his abilities in both production and vocal performance.

On this record, P Money really shows his vocal prowess, experimenting with different forms of delivery, displaying a steely, driving style on Fake Fans and title track Gunfingers that is reminiscent of Wiley and Skepta, whereas tracks such as Conspiracy Don have a more relaxed flow, in a style similar to that employed by P Money’s contemporary KSI.

The piano led introduction of opening track Intro complements the brutally honest lyrics, which document P Money’s childhood and teenage years, causing the listener to have an instant emotional investment in this record, something that carries on throughout. The mixed, raw emotions he is quite clearly trying to convey are particularly poignant on The Credits and interlude Carter which features a short segment of a phone call with his infant daughter.

In contrast to this, tracks Gunfingers and Keepin’ it Real display aggressive masculinity and machismo, and P Money’s no nonsense lyrics, coupled with some glorious production by Skepta and himself respectively, make these the highlights of the album, with JME’s verse on Gunfingers being a real standout moment on the record. Third track Welcome to England is sheer South London fury, with featured artist Solo 45’s snarling delivery making this track sound like the trap-inspired soundtrack of a mass brawl.

Track Contagious has a more R&B influenced sound, perhaps due to the gentle, soothing vocals of Rubylee; with elements of dubstep also making their way in there. The drastic change in tone makes the track feel somewhat out of place, and feels like it was shoehorned in to the album to appeal to the less initiated, when all it really manages is to be another lacklustre piece of filler.

Similarly, transatlantic trap tune Don’t Holla at Me doesn’t quite convince, seeming a little juvenile at times in terms of lyrical content. However The Credits takes a more minimalistic, almost experimental approach with the beat, having the heated, passionate lyrics at the forefront, paying tribute to all the artists who helped him get to where he is today.

While several tracks are less than stellar, mostly due to having a bit much going on and therefore seeming a bit messy, P Money’s achingly honest autobiographical lyrics and varied production, combined with the clear passion of his vocals make for an intriguing listen. However it is the more direct (and safe) grime tracks on this album that really impress. Despite having some big names accompanying him on his first album, P Money shows he has something interesting enough to still be heard.

7/10

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