What makes for great hip hop? Is it the words, the flow, or the beats? There’s definitely guys who I listen to for the lyrics, even if I’m not blown away by how they say it or the music they speak over. And there are guys whose lyrics usually make no sense, but I listen because of the way it all comes together in production–I’d put MF Doom in that category, and I love that dude so much I’m wearing his mask in the masthead of this blog.
And then there are the rare gems that bring it all together. “Shades of Mary” is the best example of that so far this year.
The lyrics are terrific–there are rapidfire rhymes that hit so quick you have to hit rewind and listen again, and there’s humor (“You wanna roll or what? I wanna hit that butt.”) and wisdom (“I don’t carry a piece, but I hit my piece/Got more random drops than explosives in the Middle East/Shoutout to the Middle West/They show me love even though I’m from the far left”). Choice samples, like the familiar use of Rappin’ 4-Tay’s “Playaz Club” beats under “You Got Soul,” make this a true mixtape. In the spirit of Clipse’s genius mixtapes, Jetpack Jones seems to be saying, “I can hit your beats better than you ever did, even if you did have a hit.” Brock Berrigan’s sound collages like “Justice For All” add meaning, depth, and mood to the overall album.
Fantastic. Check it out.