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Shad: The Old Prince [reissue]The Old Prince [reissue] (2009)
Reviewer Rating: 5
Contributed by: SloaneDaleySloaneDaley
(others by this writer | submit your own)
Titling your record The Old Prince is an interesting move, because while it places the album in the familiar hip-hop language of MC braggadocio in comparing one's self to royalty, it already offers an intriguing level of contradiction. Upon spinning this record it might seem like a rather ordinary a.
Titling your record The Old Prince is an interesting move, because while it places the album in the familiar hip-hop language of MC braggadocio in comparing one's self to royalty, it already offers an intriguing level of contradiction. Upon spinning this record it might seem like a rather ordinary album of an underground rapper making social commentary over soul-influenced production. Nevertheless, Shad does challenge some fairly common assumptions in some subtle yet effective ways. Shad's flow and wordplay are as confident as a veteran MC but it isn't all showing and proving here as The Old Prince offers a lot of questions as it explores ideas of maturing and personal growth.
iTunes, eye-patchThe verse really showcases one of the quirks of Shad's rhyme style in his preference for playing homophones (or near homophones) off of each other. There is a fantastic self-reflexive quality in his use of changing words to fit unexpectedly into a technological lingo and his expression of the artist's need to grow and change in the content of his bars.
It is kind of funny Shad should mention something going "viral" in that the concept of the video for the album's single, "The Old Prince Still Lives at Home" seems like something out of a YouTube viral video craze with him placing himself into the role of Will Smith's character of the opening credits of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The song itself is equally funny, Shad rapping verses about a man-child living with his parents way past his prime. Hilariously, the beat cuts out partway through and Shad explains that he couldn't afford the whole beat and finishes that last verse with hand claps:
If you happy when you save 2 dollars a weekWhether like in "The Old Prince‚?¶" Shad tackles lethargy, laments the struggle of black youth in a society that shows them limited options culturally in "Brother (Watching)" or talking about the poor state of his love life in "Out of Love Pt.2", he does so with a sharp wit and careful attention to detail. Although there is a different producer for each track, that same attention to detail carries over to the production. Each song is interesting enough to stand out on their own, but supports the overall vibe of the album like the drum-driven "Exile" or the beautiful piano and string arrangement on "Three Years (Interlude)." This one of the finest hip-hop debuts I've heard in some time and one of the best albums I've heard in awhile period.
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