Twenty-four year old John Penman, is an artist, producer, multi-instrumentalist and CEO of Sleeping Brother Media, his record label collective. Penman, who started playing drums, piano, and bass by the time he was 5, is currently promoting his latest EP project, entitled “The Nerve Of Some People”, a blend of pop, rap, R&B, EDM and alternative urban flavors. “Inspired directly by the nerve of many people I’ve met over my life that decided I wasn’t enough, I turned negativity to positivity in this empowering record,” says Penman. This latest recording suggests that John Penman may be a little more interested in the melodious and harmonic sides of his music than most. That’s not to say Penman is lyrically under par, but that his beats are far more than simply something to deliver rhymes over. The EP strongly emphasizes its production, and it’s all there to accentuate Penman’s singing and rapping.
The maturing of his music is something a lot of artists aspire to, and judging by the sophisticated approach and somewhat cheeky lyrics, it seems Penman was able to do it effortlessly. From the minute the EP opens with exotic Caribbean-styled rhythms of “The West End”, you quickly get the impression that what differentiates John Penman from most artists is that he understands the importance of melody and since he does all of his own singing and rapping on this recording, he had the freedom to mold each song to match his imaginative lyrical themes.
This makes it feels more personal, and paints a clearer picture of the artist and what he’s thinking. So when Penman, says: “My main philosophy is, fuck who you want, drink what you want, smoke what you want, and most importantly do what you want,” it’s easy to believe him.
“Winter”, the EP’s lead single, is a slower piano driven number, which wanders into blissful territory, with multiple vocal layers. It’s hard not to get lost in this mesmerizing tune. Penman’s harmonized, emotionally raw storytelling meets stellar keyboard drifts.
“The Nerve of Some People” is a brief connecting interlude which takes us directly to “Stay Calm (Don’t Panic)”, forging yet another stunning melodic and vocal arrangement. Penman has a sheer knack for designing complex vocal arrangements which sound so easy on the ear.
“Satisfaction” is a showcase for his rapping skills as he technically nails its breathless verses, though he still leaves plenty of room for his rich melodic choruses. Penham has a distinct talent for vocal pacing; he never rushes his words, and even when he starts rapping faster, he is still able to enunciate perfectly. This track presents a solid layer of open, intense and clever rhymes, unifying a pure pop mood piece, and a stream-of-consciousness rap voyage.
“The Nerve Of Some People” is a very conscious, focused and self-aware piece of work that accomplishes all it set out to do. It is a great example of independent solo work excellently done, demonstrating the dimensions of an artist who has an immeasurable range.
The EP is very cohesive; everything fits perfectly, which is more important than the achievement of any singular element. John Penman seems like an all-embracing artist who is well on his way to controlling his own musical destiny. Penman is flexing and stretching his skills, exploring untouched areas of his psyche and finding interesting themes to turn into songs.