If the dictionary were to inexplicably start using pictures of rappers to illustrate abstract nouns, then you’d see Shane Eli‘s face sitting right next to the definition of “vision.” While we’ve received hints of the scale of the L.A. native’s ambitions in the sheer variety of his previous features, nowhere has it been so clear as on his latest effort. Making its world premiere in the Booth, When We Were Kings finds the freestyle series alum speaking in the tradition of African-American luminaries from Pac and Hova to Muhammad Ali and Geoffrey Canada (who appear in sampled interviews, adorned with authentic cuts by DJ Critical Hype). Delivered over a self-produced, chopped-sample instrumental reminiscent of a soulful RZA beat, Eli comes with some of his most thought-provoking rhymes yet, launching a bitter (but constructive) attack against the status quo: “Free market business got the most packed prisons, torn down systems two teachers to a district, and the kids can’t read ‘cause their textbooks are missing.” If you’re digging this bracing, insightful cut, you can find Kings and much more on Shane Eli’s Booth-sponsored I Can Do Better LP, coming in March.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Grey Area" (2010)
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