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No artist has emerged from Minnesota this decade and walked his own private catwalk quite like Prof. After spending the early part of the 2010’s building a strong local following, his subsequent signing to Rhymesayers Entertainment and the release of his landmark 2015 debut, Liability, helped propel him to the next stage of his career. For example, his annual self-headlined Prof Outdoors festival has repeatedly sold out a 4, 000+ capacity each year. While there’s been a perception that the eccentric Minneapolis MC is out-of-control, Prof's undeterred, unwavering commitment to his fans reveals the craftsmanship behind the perceived chaos. Today, as his latest album title states, the newly sophisticated Prof is more accurately referred to as Pookie Baby. While Prof may be best known for his show-stopping live performances, this album pulls back the curtain, inviting the listener to join him for the most private of moments, all with a sleek touch of sophistication. As much of a showman as he is a shaman, Pookie Baby was poured out of the perspective of a man known for wild live shows, whose rigorous touring and performance schedule led to debilitating injuries. Grounded for months and undergoing multiple surgeries, Prof returned with a new perspective, teeming with unbridled sexuality and paired with a multitude of styles that run the gamut from triple-time Chicago drill to emotive, bluesy crooning, and this album showcases a spectrum of moods ranging from infectious absurdity to earnestly introspective. “Focus” highlights Prof’s well-buttoned dedication to perfectionism, while “No” aggressively gives self-preservation the anthem it’s always deserved. “Be Around” touches on the comforts of dependability in relationships, while “Send Nudes” finds reward in the vulnerable intimacy present in exposing oneself via text message (consensually, of course). The album culminates in the one-two punch of “Minneapolis” and “Eulogy, ” with the former asserting Prof's love for his hometown, while the latter affirms his keen awareness of the ever-present fragility of life and the specter of mortality. Pookie Baby is just as much the crowd-pleasing party animal’s moment of prideful self-reflection as it is the blueprint for making the most out of life while navigating the hardships. Please remember to enjoy Pookie Baby responsibly.
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