Over the past few years, Pi’erre Bourne has become a giant in the world of trap production. When Playboi Carti’s self-titled, Bourne-produced, debut album first hit streaming platforms in 2017, fans were captivated both by Carti’s undeniable vocal approach and by Bourne’s cosmic production, his beats of science fiction. Since then, Pi’erre Bourne has zeroed in on this futuristic sound, and fans go rabid for it.
With this level of success, Bourne felt comfortable enough to release an album on all major streaming platforms, entitled The Life of Pi’erre 4. On this album Pi’erre sings constantly, a skill which he had teased last year on Carti’s album Die Lit. In the production realm, Pi’erre stretches his sore limbs, free from his usual trap template. The musical motifs here are some of the most focused I’ve ever seen from a trap project, which is enjoyable at times, and taxing at others.
Pi’erre is not searching for his musical voice on this project. He fleshed out his melodic, auto-tuned style on his previous three Life of Pi’erre albums, which can only be found on Soundcloud. This is an album from a man who knows what he wants: a gaggle of catchy break-up tunes. Lyrical themes here don’t really deviate: songs fall into the two categories of “addressing my ex-girlfriend directly” and “I’ve attained success rather suddenly, haven’t I?” The lyrical similarities from song to song on this album are compounded by his production choices, which are bold and refreshing in the context of the trap genre at large, but somewhat monotonous within the album itself.
Pi’erre’s choice to establish a firm key center in his music sets this album apart from other trap projects; it’s something that many trap artists haven’t tried. The melody in his beats signal a key, and he sings dutifully in that key. He uses this concept of diatonicism to tie his songs together, often incorporating an element of a beat in one tune on the next tune. For example, the back half of the song “Feds” features a soft synthesizer in a major key, playing scale degrees 2, 3, and 1 over and over again in hypnotic fashion. The tune then effortlessly transitions with this synth vamp to the next track “Be Mine”, where it is featured throughout.
This isn’t the last we see of these three scale degrees, either. Pi’erre seamlessly integrates variations on the simple synth melody into his vocals on the back-to-back tracks “Routine” and “Lovers”. The following tune “How High” plugs the motif back into the beat, an almost-call-and-response relationship between Pi’erre and his production.
While these ideas are captivating, it cannot be ignored that prominently featuring a mere three scale degrees over the course of a 50-minute album leads to monotony. Since the transitions occasionally occur without a shift in pitch, Pi’erre creates 6 or 8 minutes of the same tonal area over the course of a few songs, and it can be hard to get through in one stretch. I had an easier time pausing the album after each musical motif had run its course, so as not to become fatigued.
Overall, this album is an intriguing partnership between vocalist and production, and I hope that Pi’erre continues in this direction in the future, albeit with some more variety from track to track. Once he strikes that balance between strength of motif and sufficient sonic variety, I’m gonna go bonkers for it. I recommend checking out this album. The strength of Pi’erre Bourne’s musical concepts makes me excited about his future solo work.