Monday, January 26, 2015

The Mountaintop EP by Shyne On Me

     D.C native Shyne On Me is no stranger to The Under-Cover Album Review, in fact, his last project, Soul Of The City garnered high praise and even his most recent single is among some of the better tracks posted on the site this year. Now, he's back again with his latest project titled The Mountaintop EP, which was released on MLK Day this year, which should come as no surprise if you glanced at the album artwork.

     For starters, Shyne On Me is a conscious rapper with a heavy gospel influence. Not only that, but he has some extremely sharp similes and metaphors within his bars from the first track to the last. His delivery is also up to snuff, as there are minimal flaws with the vocal work on this project. That being said, Shyne isn't just a sharp spitting emcee that makes thoughtful and clever comparisons, he's somewhat of a storyteller, and a good one at that.

     Shyne On Me has this seemingly innate ability to be as versatile of an emcee as they get. All throughout this EP, he displays an abundance of energy and tempo that go hand in hand with his ingenious one liners. Though, as stated previously, Shyne is more  than just another punch line rapper, because laced within those hard hitting lines are real struggles and emotions that he deals with in relation to walking by faith, his observation of the world as it is today, and many more everyday challenges. This versatility and ability to appeal to a multitude of listener's should play in his favor, as he did a really good job showing his lyrical range on this specific EP.

     In terms of a best track, it's easily the lead single on this project, "Broken Home" which features rapper Husky Hazel. Both artists come from fatherless homes, and this track serves as not only a story about an all too real occurrence in the world, but also a vow from both artists to end that cycle for their own children. Songs that give listeners glimpses into an extremely real and difficult topic such as this one deserve to be heard by the masses, simple as that.

     Additionally, there are three features on this six-track EP, which seems like a lot, but the featured artists, FLO, Husky Hazel, and Emmy Brown, all have a sound similar to Shyne's so the final product is not diluted in any means. 

     As you can see, there isn't much wrong with the vocal work on The Mountaintop EP, and the same can be said about the production work. Four producers in all had their hands in the making of this six-track EP, though, the cohesiveness between the tracks is surprisingly solid. That may have something to do with the fact that the EP was mixed and mastered by the extremely talented producer known as Judah, who got some help with the mixing from G the Mastermind.

     Hopefully, listeners aren't thrown off when they hear Dr. Martin Luther King's voice come on, I mean he is on the front of this album, the album was released on MLK day, and the title of said album is The Mountaintop EP, so if you aren't expecting to hear a couple of outtakes from his speeches, then let this serve as your disclaimer. Personally, I've never had a problem with audio snippets thrown into songs, especially not in this case when the clips are thematic. 

     To touch on the actual sound of the beats, they really aren't sample heavy, but they definitely are infused with styles from various other genres. Each beat has a bit of a different sound, but all of the sounds are branches on the same tree, so everything runs well together. Boom-bap could definitely be used to describe the beats, however, most of the tracks have quite a few layers on them, which again just adds to the versatility of this project. 

     While the best lyrical track on the project is "Broken Home" it seems that the best production work can be found on the song "The Climb" which was produced by Tone Jonez. This beat has that live instrumentation sound, and the piano playing throughout the track is simply wonderful.

     The depth on this EP is surprisingly vast, especially for only having six tracks. The Mountaintop EP is definitely some of Shyne On Me's best work, and in my mind is much better than his last album, and I really liked that one! Shyne just did a really good job at putting together a strong and cohesive body of work that conveys messages and tells stories. I think six tracks is the perfect length for this EP, simply because it brought so much to so little, that if this were an eleven-tack project, listeners would be overwhelmed. Great job Shyne and everyone who worked on this EP, The Mountaintop EP is without question a project merits much more listens then it will get, but who knows, maybe this EP finds its way around the blogosphre and manages to make a few year end lists. Give The Mountaintop EP a listen and comment your thoughts! 

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