In a world that’s grown increasingly serious and often difficult to comprehend, there are few qualities more important than a sense of humor. Few Hip-Hop acts understand that quite as well as Brooklyn trio PENPALS, who inject hilarity into their lyrics to provide moments of levity during an otherwise trying time. And on their latest album, To Whom It May Concern, the group balances the real with the funny to deliver grounded, damn-good Boom bap.
Part of the reason why the album instantly resonates isn’t just its humor, but also because both emcees (Cynic the Apache and Rapswell) sound so natural together. An ability they credit due to their years of friendship, while the third PENPAL (producer Squires) is an actual pen pal of sorts—a friend of a friend who began supplying them with bangers from which they would build their catalog.
Their camaraderie has such a natural vibe, that it’s immediately gripping, making tracks like “My Goodness” especially addictive given that they were able to seamlessly bring a third rapper (guest Castle) into the mix. That track, which is one of many highlights on here, specifically showcases their sense of humor and knack for cultural references with nods to everything from George Carlin to Sesame Street.
“We’re bringing solid goofs to the table,” Cynic says of the group’s approach. “Some people get so serious with this, and there’s a time and a place for it, but you’re also allowed to smile.”
That smile is really more of a half-serious smirk, because there are moments of reality on TWIMC, such as during the tech-conspiracy meditations on standout single “Hi Tech” (prod. Squires), as well as the spiritual musings on the Quelle Chris-produced, “Up To The Sky.” The weight of daily life, however, is most apparent on the struggle anthem, “So Real It’s Real” produced by The Doppelgangaz, as well as “Can’t Slow Down” (prod. Loupo), as the two rappers shoot the shit about the toils of being an artist who can’t afford to stop working.
As Rapswell explains, the group worked passionately to make this their best project yet, and he’s hopeful they can continue pushing themselves and further grow their audience. Given the quality of what they’re bringing on TWIMC, these goals are definitely within reach. To Whom It May Concern is now available through all major digital retailers and streaming platforms via Brick Records.