A local rap quartet's new EP has thoughtful lyrics and classic beats.
No one wants to be called a conscious rapper in the year 2012. “Conscious” has become a synonym for preachy MCs who sacrifice style and technical proficiency in order to berate listeners with a message, and who generally think listenability comes second to getting a point across.
No one would accuse half-Hamiltonian, half-Scarberian outfit Shing Shing Regime of lacking style. MCs Cee Self 7, Salute Truth, and Symmetry all have agile flows and a penchant for dense bars, and the beats made by Self and DJ Akin are catchy head-nodders with a sound that borrows from the East Coast hip-hop of the mid-’90s. That said, if you’re paying attention, you’ll see that underneath the layers of intricate metaphor and complex wordplay, Shing Shing aren’t short on messages, either.
Every song on Shing Shing’s new nine-song EP, Everlasting Waves, deals with one or more of a few core themes: education, knowledge of self, mentoring youth, and giving back to the community. Sometimes these themes are fairly overt, like on “What’s Your Contribution” and “Heavenly Generation.” Other times they’re a little more cryptic, like on “Shing Won.” But they’re always present. “Todopoderoso” is the absolute highlight of the album. The beat has a strong soul vibe and each MC absolutely kills his verse, with Symmetry’s easy, slightly nasal flow standing in contrast to the gruffer, more aggressive bars from Self and Truth. (You can listen to “Todopoderoso” by clicking on the sample above.)
With no club jams, no songs about women, and no R&B choruses, Shing Shing Regime will never be crossover pop stars, but Everlasting Waves should be enough to establish them as a favourite of hardcore hip-hop heads.