On P.T.S. (Post-Traumatic Stress), Pepperboy’s well-rounded new EP, what the Little Rock rapper lacks in florid wordplay he more than makes up in honesty and affectingly direct storytelling. It all comes to a head on "Felon," the EP's fifth track. The series of desolate songs that precede it describe an attempt on Pepperboy's life and thieves robbing a church to sell its computers, but Pepperboy remains tirelessly optimistic, reserving the ends of every verse to suggest building homes for the homeless, telling the truth and keeping a positive outlook. "Felon" comes in at a precarious moment, with all this weight piled on and the rapping protagonist contorting to find sunlight. The track looks almost exclusively on the bright side—Have respect, treat elders nice, say yes m'am—so there's something just back-breakingly ruinous about its wailed chorus, where one word from someone else can blot out the well-intentioned image you craft of yourself: The judge called me a felon. Stick around for "Lost Love," too, the EP's great closing track. Out now for free via Baku Shad-do.
Download: Pepperboy's P.T.S. (Post-Traumatic Stress) EP