September 13, 2012

A Reader's Gut Reaction: TiRon & Ayomari - A Sucker For Pumps (September 13, 2011)

(Today's Reader Review comes from frequent contributor Justa, who wishes to chat up TiRon & Ayomari's A Sucker For Pumps, and he hopes you will indulge him, given that today is apparently the one-year anniversary of the album dropping. (He didn't time his submission that way; that is purely coincidental.) Leave some words for Justa below.)

For the two of you who continue to read and support HHID (actually, I guess I should be counted within that number, so technically I should have said “for the one of you”), I thought I would take the time to review something a little more under the radar from last year, a project that somehow escaped all of the anonymous commenters and their random requests to Max, all of which tend to combine violent threats, some profanity, and a declaration that “I'm done with this blog”, which makes me wonder just how Max manages to hold on to his readers in the first place.

Given that, is it a good idea for me to send this review for TiRon and Ayomari's A Sucker For Pumps his way? I guess we'll find out.

TiRon and Ayomari are two West Coast-based artists who have shown quite the chemistry on their previous collaborative tracks. Back in 2009, I recommended via Twitter that a full-length collaboration should happen (hire me music industry, I have an idea or two). Although I didn’t think that my suggestion would actually lead to anything (and let's be honest, it probably didn’t), I was surprised last year when the two announced their debut album, A Sucker For Pumps. I was also surprised to learn that the album would be centered around the subject of women.

Now, in hip hop, when a project is centered around the subject of women, it tends to feature one or more of the following traits:

50 Cent singing
Ja Rule singing
Drake whining
4) True hip hop heads not feeling it.

So A Sucker For Pumps was not going to be a sure thing, to say the least. TiRon & Ayomari's content tends to lean more towards confessional (read: emo), and that isn’t typically part of a successful formula in the West. For the past decade, it seemed that the only way any California-based artist could ever make any noise in other parts of the country was with a Dr. Dre co-sign and a promised opportunity to "contribute” to Dre's long-fabled Detox album (see: Fashawn, Bishop Lamont, Kendrick Lamar).  However, Andre Young has never been one to associate with acts following the Native Tongues blueprint, such as, oh, let's just say TiRon and Ayomari. 

So what the heck were these two thinking going into A Sucker For Pumps? Trying something slightly different in Hip-Hop? This will never work. Right? We'll see if this manages to not only sound dope in a genre that is typically associated with hyper-masculinity and paint-by-numbers R&B collaborations when it comes to the topic of women, but also avoids sounding outright corny, so as not to alienate the guys in the audience.

I’ve never read a Jack Kerouac book in my life, but I know a ton of people (read: hipsters) who have recommended On The Road to me, so now I own it, but have yet to get to it. Maybe he somehow relates to A Sucker For Pumps as a whole? Or maybe TiRon and Ayomari share the loner vibe of that famous work? Who knows? Well, this first track would make Max proud, mostly due to the fact that it isn’t an intro. The beat is a little dramatic, but it doesn’t sound bad, and both rappers deliver impressive verses. We’re off to a good start.

Not going to front, this might be the ultimate cupcakin' track, and I mean that in every good way possible. It’s definitely something you can put on with your girl and not feel like you just went through the iTunes top ten songs list to find something she might like. It also doesn't fall into your usual New Jack Swing/ Neo-Soul trap that would date you by at least a decade. BJ the Chicago Kid delivers a great hook on here: it avoids being cringe-worthy, unlike similar tracks that litter major label releases these days (see: The Game, Yelawolf, Wale), while the two rappers deliver some clever compliments amongst a great backdrop. In case you couldn't tell, I really liked this song.

3. M.F.G.
The pace picks up a bit with this track, which is more dance floor-ready than its predecessors. Content-wise, though, it falls along the same lines as the last song, with more compliments handed to the ladies. I'm not mad at this one, though, since TiRon and Ayomari have yet to sound forced or corny when delivering the lines. I have no qualms with what I'm hearing so far.

Thundercat, who is the tour bass player for Erykah Badu and has also played with Sa-Ra Creative Partners as well as Flying Lotus, hops onto this track to provide a truly funky bass line, as well as a killer solo. Yes, I mentioned that the track is “funky”, and I am not just using the word in a weird 1970’s context; I mean it in every sense of what George Clinton intended it to be! This is definitely a standout track, and Ayomari delivers a standout verse to match.

I am not the hugest fan of Yummy Binghim (being a De La Soul fan, I never found her hooks good enough to check for any of her solo work), but this track bangs. It recycles the same breakbeat that we have heard many times before, but still manages to sound original. As far as commercial crossover singles go, “All My Love” would be the song I would imagine a major label pushing. It definitely has that mainstream feel, anyway. I also liked the use of a certain English author's name, one who wrote a series of books about certain wizards at a boarding school called Hogwarts (a series I've only watched the movie adaptations of) during TiRon’s verse.


This would be the sexy-time song. Which, this being hip hop, you'd think would sound extremely grotesque and immature, but instead TiRon and Ayomari are on some smooth talk shit. This is one of the rare rap tracks intended for the bedroom. Don’t act like you two don’t know what I'm talking about, either.

The song focuses on the fact that our society places all this pressure on a woman to look “perfect”. The hook is made up of a bunch of advertisements trying to pitch the idea of a “perfect” woman. I really liked the creative nature of this one, and I mean that not in a “man,what the hell is The RZA doing?”-experimental way, but in a “this actually sounds good”-experimental way. Dope. (Disclaimer: The RZA had nothing to do with this song and was referenced for illustrative purposes only. Please don't sue.)

This track was kind of a snoozer for me. Unlike on the previous tracks, the production doesn’t sound as fresh, and the hook is kind of lazy. While not exactly a filler track, “No Wonder” is as close to that category as I’ve heard on A Sucker For Pumps thus far. Which would mean this track, while not completely wack, leaves more to be desired.

And after a quick recovery, we are right back to dopeness. “Things Go Right” continues in the vein of the darker, more serious content featured during the last two tracks, a fact I didn’t bring up before because one of those two tracks wasn’t all that good, and the other was so good that I simply forgot to mention it.

I am sure that a lot of woman and men can relate to this one, it’s about those knock-down, drag-out arguments that happen when two people are in love with each other (funny how that happens, huh?). A good track, even though there's a little too much of a skit toward the end of the song than I would like; in the grand scheme of things, it didn't affect how fresh the track was, though.

We are officially back to the cupcakin'. These guys are on that grown-folks talk on this song, made up of the stuff you say when you want to hold on to a good one. I don't mean on some Black Planet/, trying to see what’s up cause your pic looks cute-tip either. This is on some real talk. I can dig it.


Okay, Max, I have a confession to make. “Lot On Your Mind”, by every measure, is the least hip hop track on A Sucker For Pumps...and I like it. It involves a more poppy synth-type of backdrop, some singing, a little bit of rapping, flowers, trees, and cartoon birds whistling in the background (okay, perhaps those last three were completely exaggerated). It’, how can I say this without sounding soft? Agghhh!!! It’s just a fun track, that's all!

If you never read The Source previous to Bun B and Lil Kim’s five-mic ratings, the name Dream Hampton will mean very little to you . The hip hop journalist / (co)author of Jay-Z’s Decoded drops by to tell the listener some things about women in spoken word-form. Of course, like most men, I don’t want really want to listen to it either. But it was pretty dope that they got her on the track anyway. Over the years, her written words have inspired authors, articles, and blogs, but spoken-word poetry is just something I've never really gravitated too.

14. FIN
The last track, and it’s not bad. Closes out the album well.

THE LAST WORD: I read on HHID somewhere that Max basically isn't feeling all that many current projects; he probably needs to sit down with TiRon & Ayomari's A Sucker For Pumps. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, the duo definitely try their best to carve out their own identity in a musical genre that caters to those attention-seekers instead of actual artists. When crafting an LP relating to the topic of women, it's easy to go full-on emo or keep it straight-up R&B (which there is nothing wrong with when done properly), but these two manage to keep their sound interesting while remaining firmly grounded in hip hop, and I definitely feel comfortable turning my women (not girls, cause there is a difference) friends (yes, bloggers have these, too!) on to them without reservations. I definitely recommend you pick up A Sucker For Pumps, one of the doper releases from 2011.


(Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave your thoughts below.)


  1. Little constructive criticism for Justa. I appreciate your knowledge of the genre, because you clearly have been into this hip hop thing for a while, but i didn't love the review, mainly because you didn't really describe the MC's that much. Yeah you explained the content of each track, but i have no idea what these guys sound like in terms of flow, voice, lyrical ability etc, not to mention i don't know much about the instrumentals except a few of them are "dark." Just be more descriptive

  2. This album is just that, an album. A collective work that pretty much depicts an entire relationship from the start all the way to the Fin. Unlike most hip hop today, TiRon & Ayomari seem to be more focused on the entire project than outshining each other with a hot 16. In my opinion, it's sorta, well not really, like 'Fantastic, Vol. 2' by Slum Village. Neither MC is going to make a DOA top 10 list but most of the songs, and more importantly the album, would lose their substance with too much all over the place lyricism. That Slum Village album is dope to me even though Elzhi proved a few years later that he could run circles around the other members of the group.

    Maybe you're right and this isn't your standard review of a hip hop album. However, you actually made me realize that when I recommend this to my few friends that may care, I don't really talk about the MC's very much, if at all. There shouldn't be a blueprint when writing a review. On those rare occasions when it just works, it just works. Justa explained what worked, or didn't, for himself. No complaints here.

    Actually, 1 complaint. No Wonder is one of my favorite tracks on here.

    Plus, I'm not diminishing their talent. TiRon definitely held his own against a focused Blu back in 2009 from his Ketchup mixtape.

    ..great site, keep up the good work

    -Reader #4