Thursday, June 9, 2011 Reviews T.Shirt's "I Should Just Chill" Album

Gotta admit, this shit put light tears in my eyes. I never met this kid not once in my life.

When a rapper starts off a song "this album is just some hip-hop shit / next one I'll make you groove" it makes you expect a lot more from them. Given the current state of hip-hop, where few can straddle the line between making strippers butts shake and making backpacks' zippers unzip, it's cool to hear someone express that duality of hip-hop. T.Shirt, I'd heard your name sprinkled about the blogosphere and even in my e-mail box, but never had given you a listen. I rue the day I slept now, having listened to your LP I Should Just Chill.

I'm gonna start with your diss to 88-Keys 'Don't Take it Personal'. Ironically, this track is about as personal as it gets, and I love it! You made the once-protege of Kanye West look like a nobody with this one, claiming your greater mastery of Ralph Lauren style, and ultimately dismissing him as a passing fancy. You ethered him for trying to charge you to get on his mixtape, called him out for being money-hungry and pointed out how badly the man would flop (where is 88-Keys now, anyway?) I'm not even sure where the beef came from, but you ended it before it could really begin in my eyes. Next your 'Ode to Raekwon' was beyond dope. The flow you put on the bass-heavy instrumental was reminiscent of the Chef, but shows that influence doesn't have to insinuate imitation. On 'Lana, Kim and AMK' you alluded to the universal truth that seeing a woman dance gives you direct insight into how well she 'performs' otherwise. It's little tidbits like that that made you interesting to listen to.

What threw me for a loop in your music though, was the 'rawness' that it engendered. Every song had a grimeyness to it that was only overturned by the next. I Should Just Chill, while very 2011 in its content, sounded fresh out of 1994 in a lot of respects. On a track like 'Art Bully' it's evident that you grew up in the Golden Era, from the flow down to the cacophonous beat you go over. Chants of 'New York' keep your origination in the listener's mind, while verses talking about the dissemination of art and the differences between art and imitation show your intellectual acumen. It's clear you've taken a hint from both the old and new, all while making it your own, which is what good hip-hop is made from. Even by using the instrumental from Kendrick Lamar's 'HiiiPower' on the title track of this LP, you show where your head is at in an introspective verse and tip your cap to the Compton MC. Like I said earlier, there is a duality to your work that cannot be denied. You claim you need time to 'just chill,' while embodying a hunger that won't allow you to. I suppose this goes without saying, but I'm excited to hear what's coming from you. The track 'What They Said' is an ode to naysayers, and exemplifies every negative opinion an artist can hear, from family to friends to love interests. You clearly want to leave a lasting impression, and ending on that track is the impetus for you not to chill. I know you won't...


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