Crude comparisons between Grime and Punk are not uncommon, but PENGSHUi illustrate through their music that they understand the nuances and similarities that are shared between these two genres.
Covering themes of politics, trauma and personal growth, Destroy Yourself is a complex and rich release: both musically and lyrically. The group uses their unique mixture of sounds and influences to put issues close to their heart at the forefront of their music. PENGSHUi artistically articulate their rage through the fast flows of Grime and the dense, guitar-driven instrumentals of punk.
As Pravvy Prav puts it, “If your chest isn’t rattling, then it’s not good enough.” Even with this raw rage, though, there is ample space for heart-felt emotion and vulnerability. Illaman notes that he wants to give his listeners “a bit of hope, a bit of light, a bit of love and something to spur them on in life.”
PENGSHUi’s artistry as a group is best defined by their ability to amalgamate and blend sounds. This is evident straight away from the opening track Break The Law feat. P Money, who spits a grime flow over a heavy punk instrumental (“The pain is in the flows”). Many of the tracks engage in this unique sound world, but PENGSHUi always ensure there is enough nuance and variety between tracks to maintain the listener’s interest.
While Shellers and Little Brother boast classic Grime Fruity Loops/Playstation production, Move The World leans more towards a punk space; with extensive instrumental breaks between the flows. Furthermore, the nostalgic lyricism of This Is My Youth (paying homage to “Nokia 7110” and “XBox 1”) is accompanied perfectly by the cheeky, Mike Skinner-esque delivery.
Even with the dense energy of many of these tracks, there is always room for conscious lyricism. The tragedy of Grenfell fire is an issue close to the group’s heart, which drives the anger behind tracks like Eat The Rich. This track, in particular, is built on blunt political messages (“We’ll be left with nothing if we don’t stand up” … “Slave labour didn’t die, they just put it in a uniform” … “Why do we work 9-5 for fuck all?”). Again, PENGSHUi are able to amalgamate the spirit of Grime and Punk into something that conveys their anger at injustices in their lives. This frustration turns inward on I’m Sick, which ends with a chilling and raw shouted repetition of the title with no instrumental accompaniment.
While the apathetic ending of Nothing Ever Changes may outwardly convey hopelessness (“Sometimes I find myself stuck in the recovery position/And I sob at the thought of my own solemn sense of recognition”), this is not a hopeless release. It is clear that PENGSHUi are a driven, conscious and passionate group of artists, who care deeply about their music and its messaging concerning the world around them.