In most cases, the words "I can do better" are riddled with resentment and regret for an action...
DJBooth Album Review
However, when you’ve already delivered on a freshman effort entitled The Push, the phrase we previously spent the last paragraph defining takes on an entirely new meaning. L.A. rapper/producer Shane Eli is about an intimidating presence as you may find in hip-hop but he bears the weight of the world on his shoulders. Exhibiting some serious growth between his debut and latest mixalbum I Can Do Better, Eli doesn’t shed many of the same emotions that made The Push such a personal project. Instead he ups his musical ante and gains the sort of braggadocio chip you want in a rapper on the rise.
For instance, take The Feeling. Long known as a producer with emcee tendencies, the roles are merged and balanced perfectly for Eli as his alliteration rolls over the light string production and bouncy demeanor. It’s feel good music, but Shane’s capable of as much darkness as light. Just take the steel drums and cuts from DJ Critical Hype that that defines When We Were Kings. It’s a definitive anthem, filled with punchlines questioning blog life and interpolating the words of kings such as Jay-Z and Ali making me wonder – is this merely a free release from another rapper, or is Shane Eli pushing for more fans than Cowboys Stadium on a Sunday afternoon?
ICDB often finds itself wondering exactly what it wants to be – a deeply lyrical album from a relative unknown, or a collection of hits from the next big thing. Shane can craft southern bangers (see the syrupy sweet Let’s Ride featuring Playboy Tre on his pimp stroll and Rittz hitting enough multi syllabic flows to the point where you’re dizzy just listening), he can make rousing party jams for frat life (Down featuring Donkey Kong himself Aleon Craft) and he brings out a brand new persona in full bloom on Bo Jackson.
Don’t know Bo? Well know Shane, cause Shane knows and thanks to Phife Dwag getting the screwed up chorus treatment, he clarifies and makes me want to run through Brian Bosworth on Monday night to hit the endzone. The “do it all” rhetoric holds no better comparison than the great running back/outfielder and Shane effortlessly tells you through about no less than 50 sports references: he’s the s**t and high stepping to the finish line.
When he pulls back the curtain, we get efforts like When No One Cares a somber cut made with drifting pianos and breathless vocals about suicide and the emptiness that sits in your stomach when you hear the words of “…killed themselves”. It’s one of those tracks that you don’t nod your head to, you sit and stare into empty space wondering if it were a true story or not to Shane. It may or may not have but someone’s experienced it, which makes Eli’s ICDB the sort of album not made for the artist but for its listeners – those who’ve shared experiences, ups & downs in a similar vein.
By the time you find yourself rewinding back I Love You (Kinda) you might want to revisit The Push and scratch your head. Yes, the same man who made that album made this one and decided to add some audio HGH to all of its components. Let’s now stop spelling Shane’s name with Z’s as he accuses; it’s time to wake up to one of the best new producers and rappers in the game.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Brando on Apr 21, 2011
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