‘Poetik Justice’ is the debut studio album from independent Samoan and NZ rapper Ventry Parker, commonly known these days as highly-regarded hip hop artist Poetik. Finally released late in June, it comes after a lengthy gestation period, teased since his last multi-track release, ‘Hamofied 2’, back in 2019. Has the wait been worth it? Sort of.
Warm-up outing ‘Hamofied 2’ was a concise 22-minute long release focused on showcasing Poetik’s lyricism and affinity for selecting tasteful production. ‘Poetik Justice’ sees Poetik returning to a longer album-style typical of his earlier releases – with both pros and cons. Opener Facts is a self-reassuring reminder that Poetik has been reaping the benefits of his grind within the NZ rap game for long enough. This opening, alongside the MC Eiht and Kokane assisted titular track, paints ‘Poetik Justice’ as another gangsta rap entry into Parker’s discography, but from there it doesn’t take long for Poetik’s artistic shift to come to the forefront. In an earlier NZ Musician feature in June of 2021, Poetik talked of the variety on his then-upcoming album.
“There is some gospel sounding songs, there is a love song on there with a heavy RnB influence, there is a Jodeci-feel on one song,” the rapper revealed. While these sonic lanes have been explored by Parker previously, he has not presented such a collection of tracks in this manner before, and this album is a welcome showcase of his artistic vision.
This being said, ‘Poetik Justice’ lacks focus. There are inconsistencies where Poetik enters a state of introspection (wondering whether his mother would approve of his actions), and then pours his next drink at a party. This may be a deliberate choice to highlight his current mindset, and illustrate it through music, but it does make the whole appear less coherent. “Sometimes I feel like I am rapping about stuff we did 10 years ago, but I really want to show a different light of who I am as an artist and as a human being,” Poetik is quoted in NZM’s earlier feature.
The repeated topics throughout the extended length of this album offer validity to Poetik’s statement. Combined with the varied production choices and a relatively weak RnB finish in his Happy Birthday track, and ‘Poetik Justice’ fails to continue the rock-solid momentum established on ‘Hamofied 2’. This release does symbolise the start of a new chapter for Poetik, one where he is unafraid to experiment with his sound, collaborate just as widely and delve into personal topics, all of which is a positive. My hope though is that the next Poetik album will prove to be his most refined yet.