SHAN B – The Coded Way

 SHAN B – The Coded Way

SHAN B – The Coded Way – Album Review

The Coded Way is the only way.

SHAN B sounds like he knows his way around…I don’t expect the man needs much confirmation from the likes of a guy like me.  I’m sure he’s gotten plenty of that from many people out there that have been following along and listening to his music…from the moment you push play on The Coded Way and “MASTERPIECE” starts up, you can hear he’s got the talent and professionalism required for the game.  Personally, I’m loving the details in the background every bit as much as what I hear up front in this first cut – there’s no doubt about SHAN’s ability to string syllables together and own a microphone…the dude knows what makes a hook work and he’s clearly got a relevant sound for the right here and now.  So for me, it was hearing that backing vocal supporting him like a distant echo shouting “yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh” like the voice is coming all the way from some random childhood memory from the past years and years ago…that was what stood out to me on “MASTERPIECE.”  Don’t get me wrong, the skills are realer than real…SHAN B’s got the kind of finesse, style, and swag that makes the difference…but what can I say, it’s the little things that count most sometimes y’all…I appreciate how he’s looking after all the details, not just the major things we’d all notice like metering & precision, but what happens in the background too.

“SHO SUM ReSPECT” comes next…love the definition you’ll find in this track too.  There’s a level of Trap you’ll find in the opener, but with this second cut, you’ll be more than convinced that SHAN B deserves to be found in the Conscious Hip-Hop section of your playlist than anywhere else.  I suppose the bottom line is that he’s got the kind of versatility required to move in & out of different aspects of the Rap genre & whatnot…which at the end of the day is always an asset.  Featuring SUNNY DA CHIEF…WHAT is UP with the ALL CAPS thang goin’ on in this world y’all…is this really a thing we need to be doing constantly now?  I probably get bent out of shape more than most do, cause straight up, it is a pain in the ass thing to have to deal with when you’re trying to write, you feel me?  So how about we all “SHO SUM ReSPECT” to the writing community too?  Don’t have to be petty if you stay petty, as they say…I’m at peace with who I am.  Anyhow…it’s like I always tell ya around here…when a writer ends up picking on things that are practically irrelevant, like whether or not you’re using capital letters, it’s just a sign that everything else is probably goin’ right, otherwise we’d be complaining about all that instead, you dig?  SHAN B obviously has a solid set of skills, he gets quality backup from SUNNY DA CHIEF as well…”SHO SUM ReSPECT” ends up being a track you can rely on to entertain ya more with each spin of the record.

“D.W.D.Z.” – aka ‘Dino with da zombie.’  Don’t go thinking zombies are limited to your television set on The Walking Dead, we’ve got zombies around us each and every day…trust me on that, or at least take the word of SHAN B for it.  I am…not opposed to this track…I think the beat is tight, the performance from SHAN is on-point…I suppose part of me wonders whether or not the main hooks are strong enough to keep people coming back to this cut in the same way that they would with “SHO SUM ReSPECT” or “MASTERPIECE” at the beginning.  It’s theoretically possible…I like that the man takes on a specific theme and runs with it here…you can hear the zombie-like backup vocals in the mix…that’s a smart move, but it’s one that could potentially go either way, you follow me?  Think of it like this…you know what a zombie growl sounds like…and you kinda gotta ask yourself if that’s something you really want singing backup, you know?  It’s not a huge part of “D.W.D.Z.” overall, but it is something to consider – it’s clever yes, it’s thematically on-point too, but it’s still not likely to be everyone’s number one choice in what they might wanna hear, so there’s risk in that.  Verses are slick as they get though…SHAN B has a completely fluid flow on the mic, he’s always got his style in-check, and he’s got real presence all-around – there are plenty of positives about “D.W.D.Z.” that outweigh any potential awkwardness you might find.  SHAN B’s got the wisdom when it comes right down to it, and you want to hear what he has to say.

“I T C H” is huge straight off the drop – this is one of those extremely tangible vibes you can instantly feel, and the kind of uniqueness you want pumping through your speakers at ya.  From the school of Mos Def or what you’d find him up to in Black Star, SHAN B keeps the syllables coming atcha with serious emphasis on’em to make his words hit different for all the right reasons.  “I T C H” is bold y’all – whether it’s the cleverness of the beat and the dynamics it has, or the undeniable swagger SHAN B is putting into every word he spits, one way or the other, chances are what you’ll find on this track is going to make an impact & impression on your ears.  Without a doubt my favorite of the first four cuts on the record…”I T C H” is that track that makes you realize SHAN B has got the X-factor talent that makes all the difference and could launch him straight into superstardom once the people out there catch onto what he’s creating.  Is he RUDE AF when he wants to be?  I mean…he can be motherfucking EXPLICIT y’all, YES.  I dunno about rude though…call me crazy but, I feel like there’s a time and a place where things make sense to go the extra mile shock-value-wise, and sometimes you really want people to notice ya in that respect.  So believe me, when SHAN B spits “give me your face bitch, I’ll wipe my dick off” – chances are he’s gonna raise some eyebrows with lines like that, but any attention is always good.  Being polarizing can be a massive advantage when it comes right down to it…a soggy or wet dick never is though.  I suppose the point is, you’re never going to please everyone with everything you’ve got to say in a song anyway, so you may as well say exactly what you wanna say, exactly how you wanna say it, just like SHAN B does.  “I T C H” is a freakin’ masterpiece if you ask me…I could listen to this cut all damn day.

Alright…dude gets bonus points for name-dropping Dikembe Mutombo and his famous catch phrase as “HAND ME QUALITY” kicks off.  Know this folks…when it’s basketball season, any time you’re reading a review I’ve written, understand that I stopped watching games to make that happen for ya, and appreciate it that much more will ya?  Don’t get me wrong, I love music – it’s what I love MOST on this whole planet/valley of malls we’ve created here on Earth…but basketball is a very close second.  So if it WASN’T quality that SHAN B keeps handin’ me track-after-track on this record, hell YES I’d be annoyed, because he’d be taking time away from ball season…but given that everything on The Coded Way sounds so damn good all the time, I ain’t complaining.  “HAND ME QUALITY” does an exceptional job carrying an extraordinary amount of weight…think of it this way – “I T C H” is easily the first half of the record’s best cut…anything coming directly after that was bound to struggle, or possibly even outright fail.  SHAN B avoids that scenario like a true veteran, handing you the kind of audible quality that can’t be denied and another track that deserves to be turned UP loud and proud – “HAND ME QUALITY” succeeds where most cuts wouldn’t have in the toughest spot in the lineup, and proves that this emcee has got the skills required to keep you fully engaged and entertained without having to add any filler.

Even “ETIWANDA” is stellar, and that’s facts.  Admittedly, it’s a ‘skit’ to a degree…maybe…I don’t know if that’s how I’d personally define it, but that’s what my notes in front of me say.  For less than a minute and a half, it’s actually quite a viable track all said & done – it’s got tangible hooks and a verbal rhythm to it that people are sure to notice.  Plus…I mean…that beat yo…it’s killer.  If anything, what surprises me most about “ETIWANDA” is that SHAN B didn’t choose to ride this song for a whole lot longer.  He’s played it correctly though…the hooks are noticeable, and memorable – but too much of’em would likely reveal the wear and tear on’em pretty quickly this time…but the beat and bars are straight fire, 100%.

I ain’t just another rapper” – that’s #truth if you’ve ever heard it before y’all, believe it.  SHAN B’s special, and that’s facts.  I’m not seeing anything else on his pages at the moment…so I’m thinking that The Coded Way is actually his debut…and honestly, that makes it even more impressive.  Listening to a track like “GoGet IT” give you some insight into the history of who he is, where he’s been, how he came up, and what he’s been through to become the artist that he is now today…SHAN B has clearly seen his fair share of the shit y’all…but you can hear in every bar & syllable he spits on this track that he’s got the true grit & determination it takes to find success.  Whether it’s his debut, or seven records down the road…none of that really matters in my opinion…if you keep the quality up like he has throughout this record, trust me, people will eventually find this dude’s music and becomes extremely loyal fans.  Like I always say on these pages of ours, the more YOU there is in the music YOU make, the better the results become more often than not.  A track like “GoGet IT” proves that theory is correct – it’s one of the most hard hitting cuts on The Coded Way and one of the most revealing, but by far one of the most memorable when it comes to content.  You know what I mean?  Like…I’m not talking about hooks – “GoGet IT” has some like any track would, but that’s not what makes it special or stand out like it does – what makes this cut have an impact on ya is completely due to the way it’s written and the performance that SHAN B puts into it.  You can hear these aren’t just words to him – this is what LIFE sounds like to him, and it makes a difference.  When they say ‘write what you know’ – this is why…you can hear SHAN B seizing his moment, summoning his confidence, and kicking all the ass here…and it’s listening to the details of what he’s been through to be here today that you know he’s born carve out his own place in the industry and go the distance with his music career.  Mark my words y’all…SHAN B has got the juice.

I still don’t know about this ALL-CAPS bullllllllllllllshit…but like I was tellin’ ya before, if that’s all he’s left me to complain about, he’s done pretty damn good.  “TALKING MY LANGUAGE” is one of those tracks where I feel like the verses easily outshine the chorus…but to be fair to SHAN B, that’s how I feel about a lot of the Rap/Hip-Hop I listen to.  I kind of feel like it SHOULD, know what I mean?  A hook is a hook…and more often than not, they’re bound to be repetitive…a rapper is all about words & poetry, so it only makes sense that the verses would contain the real meat in any song we listen to.  It’s fair to say that I’m not lovin’ the main hooks of “TALKING ME LANGUAGE” if we’re talking about the chorus…but I’d probably tell ya that the ACTUAL hooks are in the verses anyhow – that’s what’s gonna keep people coming back to this track for another listen.  You can look at a comment like that a couple ways…you can take it as a compliment, which it is – SHAN B creates killer bars, and that’s what’s real – but you can also look at it as an opportunity to raise the stakes when it comes to the hooks in his music later on down the road too.  You want both aspects of a cut to be on somewhat even ground at the end of the day if it’s at all possible…and I’d be the first to tell you that it isn’t always the case…sometimes one half of a song IS going to outshine the other, that’s the reality.  The closer you can get those two pieces together though, the better off you’re gonna be over time though…you’ll avoid people feeling like they have a favorite PART of your song, and appreciating the whole thing – make sense?  Then of course, we can go even further into what the masses expect…they’re always going to think that the hooks or chorus are going to be what really defines a song…which isn’t always the case either – but it is important to have an understanding of what their perspective is.  They want those sing along moments and lighters-up parts, you know?  I’m not saying that a few of you out there won’t listen to “TALKING MY LANGUAGE” and feel like it still qualifies in that regard…of course some of you will – we all like what we like and love what we love when it comes to music.  But as for what the majority would think?  I’m not so sure they’d get all that they’d be looking for in “TALKING MY LANGUAGE” by comparison to many of the other cuts on this album.  I however, could listen to SHAN B rap the phonebook out loud and I’d never complain or feel bored…so to me, the verses of this track somewhat stole the whole show, and I’m fucking HERE FOR IT.

Smartly bringing back SUNNY DA CHIEF back once more to help close it down on “MY TABLE” to finish off the record was a great idea – and I’d reckon this second appearance makes even more of an impact than the first collaboration between them did.  I suppose this is exactly what I was getting at when I was talking about “TALKING MY LANGUAGE” before…listen to the effect that finding the balance has here yo!  SUNNY DA CHIEF keeps the hooks on-lock with such a stellar turn on the mic and such a great part – and of course, we KNOW that SHAN B has got the craft it takes to make the bars rock…so that balance really becomes the main winner here, and creates a final track that is 100% engaging from start to finish.  All-in-all, it’s clear that these two work extremely well together, and I’d continue to explore that if I was them.  They rocked it early on in the set with “SHO SUM ReSPECT” and they take their potential even further with what you’ll hear on “MY TABLE” at the end.  I’d actually go as far as to say it’s one of the record’s best tunes…if not THE best, or at the very least, the most accessible to all.  I’m still gonna advocate for the uniqueness of “I T C H” at the end of the day, but if we’re talking about what the people really wanna hear, “MY TABLE” completely supplies, and makes for a supremely addictive ending to this record from SHAN B.  I’d be stoked about listening to anything this dude creates after this first experience with his music…dude’s got a gift, and this whole record proves he’s ready to put it to work.

Make sure to have a listen to The Coded Way at SHAN B’s official page at Soundcloud here:

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