The concept for My Last Good Deed
was born out of a conversation A Plus
had with his father. "We were discussing how I had these reoccurring problems in different areas of my life like relationships and business dealings. My dad's advice was to put my foot down and make one last effort to make the situations work out. He said 'If it still doesn’t work out, make it your last good deed and move on'"
A-Plus has certainly done his father proud with this release. It has all that we know as being good from the Hieroglyphics and the Golden Era, but also brings this to the modern day for a heartfelt insight into A-Plus' psyche. If this album doesn't do it for him I will be surprised. But if it doesn't A-Plus can relax knowing that he has put in the work and created a musical tomb which should be revered for years to come.
His first solo effort showcases his exceptional rhyming and production skills. Sonically, the album is a testament to A-Plus' view that, "hip-hop is like potpourri- you can take bits and pieces from any genre and make them into a hip-hop song. It's the first genre to do that and that's why I love it". Compound7, comprised of A-Plus and AAGEE, produced most of the album.
Compound7 uses various production techniques on the tracks. On "Nothin' Fake / The Ultimate
" Plee played all of the instruments, then went back in and added a little record crackle sound so that people would think it's a sample. The other production on the album is provided courtesy of respected producers Jake One
(50 Cent, E-40, De La Soul, MF Doom), J Zone
(Biz Markie, Sadat X, Tha Alkaholiks, RA the Rugged Man, Lil Fame (M.O.P.), MF Grimm) and Quincey Tones
(Apathy, Masta Ace, Wordsworth).
Lyrically, the album covers a diverse amount of material. "The One" is the jumping off point for the album as well as an homage to A-Plus' Jamaican heritage, courtesy of Kingston-born Major Terror. The third verse sums up A-Plus' attitude to the album perfectly: "This my first solo effort I hope you get it / If you don't then it's copasetic but no disrespectin' / I done earned my stripes, dude made, my dues paid". It is nice to hear old skool words like copasetic being revived.
"My Dub Song" is Plee's twisted take on a traditional love song, where every reference to "love" is replaced with a reference to weed (a 'dub' in Oakland means a twenty-sack). Classic lines ensue: "What's dub gotta do with it? Dub will find a way. Could it be I'm callin' for dub? Dub is a battlefield. I feel like LL- I need dub". Throughout the LP references to weed are censored out. I don't know the reason for this, but I have to say that it is mightily annoying.
The most poignant song on the album is undoubtedly "Kiss The Sky". At the beginning of the recording sessions A-Plus had trouble finding his own voice, as he was used to working in a group environment. "I was feeling unsure of the direction of the album, but one of my best friends sat me down and broke it down in a way that was simple but perfect. He told me to just be myself, to be the person that he hangs out with everyday", explains Plee. Tragically, when the album was half completed, his dear friend was brutally murdered. A-Plus put the project on hiatus for months but eventually found the strength to come back to it and a reason to complete it in the memory of his friend.
A-Plus' 25 year journey parallels that of Hip-Hop itself; they have come of age together and experienced the same growing pains. This record reflects a process of soul-searching that tries to reconcile and chronicle that journey through a life in hip-hop. Plee's newfound "last good deed" outlook is perfectly summed up in the last line of "Kiss The Sky": "Life goes on if you lucky 'cause my homeboy's dead / But I'm alive so I be on my shit / You gotta rock rock on / Keep keep it on"
The album marks the first time that A Plus has been able to freely express his own thoughts without being constrained by a group writing process. As Plee explains, "I've never said anything this personal on a Souls of Mischief album before... ever. When writing songs in a group, you have to keep everyone's messages in a cohesive manner and that doesn't always allow for each of our personalities to stand out"