Review Date: 05/28/2014
Review By: Christopher Johnson
Release Date: April 2014
Rating: [usr 9]
Hailing from Washington D.C., Shyne On Me is ready to explode on the scene. His passion for his city, and making music is only exceeded by his passion for God and reaching those who don’t know of His love. As a follow up to his mixtape Loose Change, Soul Of The City is a dual homage to his city as well as his commitment to sharing the message of everlasting life offered by our Savior.
“Soul Of The City,” the first track, is a jazz/funk/go-go inspired head nodding, body shaking, feel good introduction into what Shyne on Me has in store for the remainder of Soul Of The City. Shyne has a phenomenal ability to draw illustrations with his lyrics, to the point that if listening with closed eyes, a movie is liable to appear with uncanny realism. “Soul Of The City” is a call to arms of sorts, with Shyne On Me expressing a willingness to lead the charge.
K-Drama joins the party on “Above Only.” The block party-esque live band backdrop to the vocals keep up the theme of the introductory track. Thematically, Shyne and K-Drama continue to appeal to the call of Christians reaching out to our lost brothers and sisters.
“Bird’s Eye View” plays like a ‘cruisin’ in the drop top’ track with deep bass and smooth refrain. As is par for the course on Soul Of The City, Shyne On Me has a buttery smooth delivery on the album’s third cut. He exudes passion without making the listener feel like they are being yelled at.
J. Johnson assists Shyne on “Sin City.” The fourth track speaks of the uncertainty of living through the trials and tribulations of life in a city where all hope is seemingly lost. The accompanying beat and instrumentation is scaled back to ensure the message is not lost.
“Edge” keeps true to the album’s theme in presenting images of watching the world around you seemingly slipping further and further away from God’s clutches. Shyne On Me’s delivery on “Edge” is more of the same with his clever lyrical twists and turns. Shyne repeats that “this world just keeps on spinning so fast…” and the music invokes that very imagery.
“Turn Back 4 What” features a soulful chorus by India Ellis, and a soulful piano riff. With that assistance, Shyne On Me continues his pleas for everyone within ear shot to heed God’s calling in getting our hands dirty and taking our blinders off.
Shyne On Me takes the opportunity to acknowledge his imperfections on “Kevin Hearted.” In doing so, however, he states a refusal to give up trying to honor the gift that God has provided us all. Witty references are again cleverly intertwined throughout, continuing to show this emcee’s painstaking fine tuning of his lyrics.
“I Believe (Ray)” is an acknowledgement of the idea that while we cannot see God, our faith propels us. The earlier used jazz/soul instrumental influence return to accompany Shyne’s as always smooth delivery.
“Prayers” kicks the jazz band sound up a notch, almost as if the track was recorded in an actual jazz lounge. As one would likely presume from the title, “Prayers” is a track all about the power and importance of closing your eyes and speaking to our Father.
Shyne On Me takes it back to the opening couple of tracks’ block party themed musical backdrop on “Marvin Chuck & Duke.” The title is of course a reference to world renowned legends, and native sons of our nation’s capital, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Brown (honorary native son), and Duke Ellington. Shyne On Me emphatically praises his city and speaks of his vision stating “I love my city, I’m putting on for you, got God on my side, they can’t stop the truth” Shyne reinforces his ambition to bring hope and God’s love to his home town.
“Name?” closes out Soul Of The City. The track is essentially Shyne On Me’s explanation of his motivation and where his moniker comes from.
Soul Of The City is the type of album that almost requires multiple successive listenings to fully realize the masterpiece that was prepared by Shyne On Me. His incredible allegories which masterfully invoke a picture perfect movie that plays alongside the tracks is almost scary. Pop Culture references and word twisting abound throughout, Soul Of The City almost challenges the listener to unearth all of the album’s treats.
Soul Of The City is available for free on his bandcamp site. With the quality of this album, not paying for it should invoke feelings of guilt. As if in anticipation of such, bandcamp does allow for optional donations for downloads (hint hint).
Get Soul Of The City for free (or in return of a donation!) on bandcamp here.