Album Review: Shady Blaze

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Shady Blaze likes to rap fast. Out of everyone in the Green Ova Undergrounds crew, he’s the one with the most immediate talent behind the mic. When Main Attrakionz are coughing up weed smoke to set up the audio feng shui, Shady is running over ears like a bullet train. Fast rap has come back in style of late, with young rappers either Myspace messaging Bone Thugs-n-Harmony or finding Three 6 Mafia blogspots. But if there’s anyone whom Shady Blaze’s style emulates, it’s Chicago’s Twista, who’s had a Guiness World Record and a number one single since he started rapping in the ’80s, and is still putting out albums and staying relevant. There are worse rappers to sound like.

On Green Ova’s Most Hated, Shady offers his most effective statement of independence, from the shadow of labelmates and Twista comparisons. It’s almost like he can’t help but make a name for himself. On the opener, “Hard Hitta,” he describes himself as, “a heavy hitter at bat/a shooter at the three/a speed demon at the last lap/hand me the money then I’m on the goal like a half back/I’m good at math.” He’s not just a multi-sport athlete and he’s not a rapper who speeds up his tempo because he’s boring at normal speed. Shady doesn’t even pick up the pace until the third track, a sequel to 2012′s “Another Dimension” with Canadian veteran rapper Noah23.

He mostly tempers his double-time over the course of 17 tracks. There’s a lot of subject matter that is too heavy to simply tie to a cheetah and let it run wild. Shady also has clearly improved his flow when he slows down. “Whole New World” has a spacey piano for him to weave words about on the disconnect of tragedy through an internet connection. “Foul Times” contains musings on the media eschewing world problems for gossip. “Chivalry Is Dead” is all delicate misogyny about a few bad experiences with women. Shady titled the album “Most Hated” because he’s received hate for being different as a rapper. He’s turned that hate outward with a lot of blame to go around.

GOMH isn’t all doom and gloom, though. On the self-produced “Weirdo,” Shady finds himself embracing his differences and intoxicated fans. Over DJ Burn One’s knockoff “Rich As Fuck” bassline on “Green Ova,” he raps about the unconditional love for his crew. He’s stopping to smell the roses on his road to success with MondreM.A.N on “Makin’ Moves” and later gets completely overtaken with feelings for his woman “Princess Safaiya.” The punultimate track “Go Off,” has Shady flexing for anyone who wanted to hear just how fast he can be, over a trippy, urgent beat from Joey Bagadoughnuts (not to be confused with the South Carolina eatery).

Shady Blaze hardly uses developed narratives in his raps. He’s not the kid at the front of the class trying to reinterpret a Shakespeare play, he’s the kid in the back with a hoodie on who was called to the front of the class and never stopped talking. He’s not using extended metaphors and allegories, he’s rapping straight up about who he is and what he’s thinking. With the observations he makes, the willingness to put it all to tape and nearly unmatched speed and style, he’s got a lot more to say.

Topics: Bay Area Rap, Review, Shady Blaze

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