Keepers of the Lost Art
(Diamond Media 360 / Below System)
The album jumps right into the boom bap, fuck an intro. A beat and hook mix reminiscent of Marco Polo and Preemo via Rus Nulius provides an energetic foundation for Shabaam to make his plea for bringing back the authentic. A resonating organ and horns weigh heavy in a sample looped to a bounce. This is a proper welcoming to the new album by an underground vet that has been fighting for eras.
This is the BK trooper’s fifth studio album which boasts twenty tracks. To help him along the way, but not over indulging in appearances, Sahdeeq laces tracks with Tragedy Khadafi, Reks, Wais P, Skyzoo, FT, and borough brother, Bekay. Shabaam has an engaging voice and an intellect that enthralls the listener. An objective perspective, which was seasoned by the streets, propels tales of caution. And while the street tales may indulge in explicit description, they are not without knowledge of planning and consequence. He can speak of violence and boast gun bars, but they are woven into his lyrical tapestry; he never solely relies on the gangsta tales.
Sometimes his beatsmiths rely on the synth a little too much for me, as a fan of musical instruments. But when the strings of the Hitchcock-esque mysterious tone of “Playing Games” is coupled with the creaking, water-like string plucks and snare rolls, SS gets a background he deserves.
“Speak Truth” is one of the best tracks beat wise, invigorating string with heavy bass and a vocal loop helps this bad larry bang. Reks comes on and spits fire.
“Walk with the Light”” relies on a dope chiop; a jazzy piano loop, sparse like J Dilla or Roots would execute. This reticent tone is fitting for the deep questioning reflections of the ode to his son. Swooning violin. The same approach echoes on “Grown Man Hustle”. A meandering jazz keyboard traverses through the track, unfettered. The seductive hypnotic atmosphere works with the singing hook and miscellaneous percussion of rattles and clicks. The wordplay is slick and is perfect for a drive through empty city streets illuminated by neon lights shimmying through the rain. A definite Roots vibe.
“Hardbody and Heavy” combines a trumpet, a heavy guitar, Hammond organ and raucous drums bringing the jam to an elevated intensity. The feel reminds me of Pharoahe or Ill Bill or MOP’s energy captured on the track. The Snowgoons, Muggs approach fits for a sick gangsta tale that Scarface or Nas or Raekown could deliver.
We finally get a gritty 70’s dirty bass on “The Comeback Kid”. And I love hearing Skyzoo on a track like this. The two have a cool dynamic with their contrasting flows. Sky got that smooth voice and SS comes with the fierce fire. The same funky bass approach is on the “OG Certified” with Tragedy; as a smooth synth floats in the background. An acoustic guitar pluck with a flute fluttering in the back ground with SS’s descriptive story telling lyrical majestic concoctions – and E Dub in the hook with actual scratching helps old heads bob necks.
This is an album that persists with fire verses over complex layered beats. In a miasma of mediocrity and scattered singles on what are erroneously hailed as ‘albums’, Shabaam shines and shows what passion, integrity and hard work can produce.