About a year ago, in December of 2015, I found myself in a very embarrassing situation outside the NERVE DJ’s/Big Heff Christmas party.
My date forgot her ID, and although my hairline should be instant verification of my age, I was told by the lady working the door that we would not be gaining entrance to the party. I AM THE DAMN FACE OF THE FRANCHISE. MY FACE IS ON THE FLYER.
So I turned away from the door and lo and behold, I was face to face with Pooh Gutta, who was in the same situation. I still laugh because Pooh didn’t have his physical ID, but he was trying to get in with a pic of his driver’s license on his cell phone.
No Dice. Not even for Pooh Gutta.
But it was cool with me, because it gave me a chance to exchange Holiday pleasantries with one of my favorite guys to bump into! I gave Gutta a huge hug and a pound, and said what I always say to him, which is “I’m proud of you” (more on that later). Pooh flashed that million dollar smile and we bid each other a Merry Christmas and bounced.
As I walked down E. 4th St licking my wounds and bandaging my pride, my date turned to me and said “Who was that, you obiously think a lot of him?”, and I said “That’s Pooh Gutta- and no one moves in the streets without his permission.”
She looked at me quizzically and said “That little sweetheart that just told you Merry Christmas?”.
It was in that moment that I realized the genius and appeal of Pooh Gutta. I don’t know if there has ever been an artist who balances “big bro” muscle and “lil bro” charm the way Pooh does it. Whatever “it” is- Pooh has ‘it”. And Cleveland has known “it” for years!
You simply don’t make it out of Cleveland without a Pooh Gutta Co-Sign. Kells wouldn’t be Kells without Pooh giving the stamp. Ray Jr, certified in his own right, would tell you that his early career benefited greatly from a mutually beneficial relationship with Pooh.
But as Kells and Ray got thier deals and national press, Pooh was facing legal problems and he was left behind, albeit momentarily. He and Young Shank were probably more popular than Kells and Ray in the streets, but they had to wait thier turn as thier brothers from CLE took off.
But during that time Pooh developed. And the process took some time.
When he dropped “On Mommy”, a song that DOMINATED the clubs in Cleveland, he appeared on Bubble N’ Blow with Soop and I. I told him how much I loved the song. Interview ended, song played, phone rang.
It was Pooh. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t bullshittin’.
Pooh was transitioning from that young kid who screamed his way through Cleveland anthems like “Police” with MGK. He was making songs with emotion and melody. And he wasn’t sure people would love it.
But what he didn’t count on was people like my date, who saw Pooh as much more than a Trap artist. He has star power.
His last project “East St. Cleveough” was a real departure. For every stripper/dope boy track, there was an “On Mommy” or a “3 AM”, songs that told stories and drew you in. It showed growth and showed that Pooh was turning into a star.
Well Pooh clearly missed the grit- because it’s back, all over his new project “Last Autumn” hosted by Ryan Wolf.
Pooh is back to the Gutta. And he’s dishing out co-signs!
Pooh sounds the most comfortable when he can just pop in for a verse on a track. I think he just feels more comfortable when he can hit you with a quick burst of his trademark energy and then get back to the trap. But the album’s intro shows just how explosive a whole song by Gutta can be.
On the Pyrexxz produced “Last Autumn Intro”, Pooh follows one of my favorite formulas right now- the slow build. Meek Millz and Tee Grizzly made it popular- and Pooh made it real. One listen to the track and I literally couldn’t wait to see what was next.
What’s next is a 16 Track journey through the streets of Cleveland with virtually ever artist poppin’ right now. From Free Bandz Own Doe Boy, to Lost Tribe, to A-Rod Da God, To Preme Dibiasi to Lil Cray and Sir Chubbie (see my review of thier album, another banger you gotta cop)- Pooh gives everyone a shot on the project and it gives it a true BIFC feel. Wolf had to love it- it’s a DJ’s dream!
But even with all those guests, it’s cuts like “Ricky” produced by RJ Da Fool that I love the most. It’s Pooh giving you Pooh, with lines like “Wake up wash my ass, brush my teeth catch a tweet” that remind you this is a cat who lives life like you do- only he’s Pooh Gutta, and that makes it just a little bit better!
But if there’s a home run on the project it’s “Sundress”. Produced by Sosa 808 (remember that name people), Pooh lines up all the heavy hitters- Doe, A Rod and Preme on one track, and then lets them get it in on a 2017 redo of the Juvenile classic “Back Dat Azz Up”. You can go ahead and learn it now, because you don’t want to be the only one not singing it at the BBQ this summer.
At the end of the day, do I think this project is the peak for Pooh. No. I think Pooh has the potential to reach Jeezy levels when he tells about his life and these streets. I still think there will be a project where Pooh perfects storytelling and gives us the real truth of who he is. But until then, he gives us what we need, and what we crave. He opens his mouth and out falls Cleveland.
If you have to give people from out of town one artist to describe the New Cleveland Movement, it’s Gutta. And whether it’s this Autumn or next, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on!
I’m proud of Pooh because he could’ve gotten discouraged. He could’ve gotten bitter. Instead, he did what all Clevelanders do. He got better. And he solidified his legend.
Download “Last Autumn” by Pooh Gutta, hosted by DJ Ryan Wolf at Live Mixtapes: