Houston has always been a prominent force in hip-hop, giving us the likes of Paul Wall and Mike Jones (Who?) to name a few. While H-town’s past held a thugged out vibe; hip-hop duo 3Bubble & J.Gray have come together to release Live From The Pentagon, mixtape that is way more funk and pop than what we are used to when speaking of the Houston rap scene. Don’t be turned off by that. A little diversity never hurts any scene, with the added bonus of chemistry between this duo making them a bright spot for Houston during the darkest of days.
Throughout the 13 tracks, there’s an obvious comparison to be made that leaves quite the shoes to fill. It appears Bubble and Gray are taking notes from none other than Outkast, the eccentric and lively duo made up of Andre 3000 and Big Boi. There couldn’t be a better pick for the artists to gain influence from and on Live From The Pentagon, the up-and-comers do Outkast proud. Don’t worry, the duo isn’t biting this style by any means and allows themselves to remain individual. Jump on “Hands Up” featuring DJ Baby Roo and an EDM explosion is promptly delivered. Switch over to “Studio”, and a slowed down R&B-rap smash is laid down with finesse. Bubble and Gray show their ability to tap into other genres for material and shy away from being a one-trick-pony.
Live From The Pentagon has a heavy old school vibe to it but is still able to combine elements of today’s hip-hop trends to form a cohesive sound. Bubble and Gray aren’t ready to let go of their roots and they aren’t afraid to adapt either. “Turn It Down” is the perfect example of this, with its powerful breakdown of keys scattered throughout the track. On “Easy” they utilize a pop-style hook over a classic Houston-rap type beat once again utilizing where they came from to their advantage.
Even with all of these highlights, it feels as if an extra step for 3Bubble and J.Gray is needed to push themselves to the next level. They definitely found their sound and know how to make a quality selection of songs, but Live From The Pentagon lacks in the replayability department. When people get a new album they want to be able to play it on repeat for the first five days straight and not just put it aside thinking it was good, only to come back a few weeks later going “Oh yeah, this was a good track.”
Live From The Pentagon is a good mixtape but it isn’t satisfyingly wholesome. The duo hasn’t reached their full potential yet on what they can really accomplish which leaves a bright upside. Bubble and Gray have created a tape that clashes generations of hip-hop against each other in a wonderful harmony. It’s a refreshing collection of sound when comparing it to a lot of the rap that’s “hot” right now. This ultimately shows the savvy artistry that helps them stand out amongst a crowd of characters that often times, finds a lot of copycats. Don’t ever expect a duo’s first mixtape to be their very best work; which is why it’s impressive to say the least at the base they have built themselves. While they may take influences from the past, it’s hard not to think the future is bright for this time blending duo.