Saturday, May 3, 2014

Soul of the City by Shyne On Me

     The gospel/conscious rapper Shyne On Me, released his latest project, Soul of the City on April 19th. As far as album covers go, Soul of the City has one of the better ones of 2014, as it emulates the iconic photo of MLK standing before hundreds of thousands of people who participated in the March On Washington. That being said, if album covers are any indication of the quality of music, then you know we will be in for something special.

     Hailing from the D.C area, Shyne On Me mixes gospel rap, with conscious rap all throughout this project. He doesn't use an extreme amount of religious references, but enough that any listener could see that his beliefs play a strong role in his life. Shyne is lyricist who posses a very balanced flow. He brings the right amount of energy to the beat which really makes for a good listen. 

     Soul of the City features some pretty decent rhymes, fused with great hooks. Having a great hook, is truly underrated and Shyne knocked this aspect out of the park. Another feature that really stood out was the thematic songs. The track "I Believe(Ray)" from the album comes to mind, because the entire track is about believing something Shyne can't physically see, thus comparing his sight to Ray Charles. Another track on the album that did this was "Kevin Hearted." This track was talking about how people may "laugh at his pain" but that we all have to cry sometimes. Having these thematic tracks really improved the listening quality and speaks odes to Shyne's lyrical genius. 

image.jpeg     Having the entire eleven track project mastered and mixed by beatsmith Judah is always going to catch some eyes. The professionalism on this project is really great to hear, and the beats coming from a multitude of producers really steal the show.

     Having production come from a variety of producers can give off a disoriented sound, but for the most part, Soul of the City sounds very cohesive and united. The project has very smooth beats that will keep your head bobbing the whole way through, however, there was two tracks on the album that didn't quite fit the sound of the project. The tracks were "Bird's Eye View" and "Above Only" Either the lyrics didn't fit the style of beat, or the beat seemed too erratic. Whichever it was, there was just something about those tracks that didn't quite seem to mesh with the others. Though, this was a minimal flaw from an otherwise admirable  release.

     The bravery for an artist to be open with his faith is truly awe-inspiring. While I personally am a Christian, I still think it is great for an artist of any religion to preach that through music. At the end of the day, the majority of  people would rather listen to rappers talk about women, weed, and money, rather than hear a few tracks about how to get through trials and tribulations with the help and guidance of a higher power.

     That being said, the number one artist hip-hop fans associate with Christian hip-hop is Lecrae, and while Lecrae makes great music, it seems that if Christian artists aren't in that circle than not many people will listen to them. It's time more appreciators of the genre branch out, and find more artists such as Shyne On Me to support. 

     I was thoroughly impressed with this project. It was a good listen, and it didn't drag on. Eleven tracks seemed to be a good length for the album, and unfortunately Soul of the City will go down as another free project that deserves so much more than downloads. Hopefully listeners will be able to resonate with this album, whether it be spiritually, or even by just getting some motivation. At the very least, you will get good hip-hop, and that's really what its all about.

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