With that booming voice of his, under-rated Kiwi rapper PNC has provided plenty of throwaway cartoon rap and laid-back drinking anthems since his 2006 debut.

All that changes on the Bazooka Kid's fourth record, available online for free.

Smothered in dreamy soundscapes, slurred pop samples and soulful grooves, Under the Influence shows the Palmerston North rapper has matured into a consistently engaging presence with his best record yet.

His growth is evident from the woozy summer vibes of As I Fly, to Take It All's stunningly twisted soul, and Stranger Part 1 & 2, which reworks Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know into something creepy and barely recognisable.


There are plenty of surprises too, with Midnight Youth singer Jeremy Redmore popping up on moody standout Fame Kills All, To the Stars sampling Beyonce's Watch the Throne song Lift Off, while PNC's 80s addiction shines through on the slick R&B synth attack of I'll Be On It.

But it's PNC's rhyme skills that hold it all together; he even gets away with the ridiculous disco of Go - but only because he sounds like he's having so much fun. The only misstep is the party crunk of All Day - an unnecessary throwback to his past.

But PNC and producer Matt Miller should be applauded for crafting a Kiwi rap classic that ebbs and flows in all the right places.

This album might be free, but it's so good you should find a way to pay for it anyway.

Stars: 4/5
Verdict: Kiwi rapper finds his soul on classy fourth album
Download Under the Influence here.

- TimeOut