East of San Francisco and Oakland, beyond Mount Diablo, right on the San Joaquin River, is Pittsburg, CA. It’s very much part of the Bay Area, but it’s sufficiently distinct from its Northern California brethren to have cultivated a personality of its own. Pittsburg is a straightforward and unpretentious place. It’s deeply and proudly Californian, working-class and multi-ethnic, visually striking, and creative without being ostentatious. It’s a town that has generated more than its share of straight-shooting, truth-telling artists — and rapper $tovey is the latest voice to represent Pittsburg on the national stage.
$tovey’s doing it the way that you’d expect a Pittsburg native to do it. His tracks are ferocious, forceful, no-nonsense, stylish but never preening, confident, smart, and tough. $tovey’s singles foreground his talent: they’re packed with quick-witted rhymes dense with wordplay and cultural references and full of distinctive personality. “Pronto,” his latest, is his most fully realized track yet, and not coincidentally, it’s also his most impressive feat of rapping. He begins rhyming almost immediately and keeps it going for two minutes solid, barely pausing for breath — no breaks, no features, and no fear. His appeal is as immediate as the track’s title suggests.
$tovey’s producers have crafted a sound that fits his sensibility. It’s a sound that hints at pop but never gets saccharine — one that incorporates trap sensibilities while leaving plenty of sonic room for $tovey to shoot the works. It’s danceable, shoutable, and just aggressive enough to get the crowd moving. “Pronto” comes on strong and makes an indelible musical and lyrical impression. It leaves you wanting more.