Today’s Hip-Hop market is saturated with artists that sound like other artists. This lack of originality has created a humongous void that hasn’t been filled, until now. Hailing from North of the Border (that’s right Canada! Regina, Saskatchewan to be exact), is Shaz, a femcee whose mission is to inject creativity and authenticity back into Hip-Hop. Her latest effort “The Introductory Mixtape” combines clever lyrics with intriguing concepts, which are sure to spark the listener’s interest.
The Introductory Mixtape is comprised of 13 tracks that truly display Shaz’s artistic songwriting abilities. The opening skit “Hip-Hop 101” takes a jab at the society of actors disguised as rappers and connects right on the chin. In this parody, Shaz portrays a teacher who explains the dos and don’ts of Hip-Hop to her attentive students. Her lessons include giving shout outs to your rappers friends, only referring to guns that you’ve seen on Google images, making constant references to being in a club, continuously stating that you are African-American, putting together senseless multiple syllable words that rhyme and ultimately just being yourself. To add insult to injury, Shaz effectively expresses her thoughts over the instrumentals of a few well known, but clichéd artists. This spoof on present-day Hip-Hop should give even the most fickle fans something to smile about.
Shaz sends a clear message to all of her antagonistic fans on “Lose All Control”. She takes on various roles as she tells a unique story from the point of view of the phony fan, the reporter, and lastly, herself. This underdog emcee goes head to head with “the haters” as she solidifies her writing talents. The Remedy provides a blitzkrieg of solid drum kicks that are accompanied by spotlessly sequenced snares, a staggered hi-hat and an infectious baseline. The track is topped off with a complementary piano riff and features fellow Myspace emcee, Penalty Da Gr8 on the refrain.
Shaz gives a voice to many who are voiceless and becomes an advocate for victims of their environmental circumstances on the dramatic track “Runaway”. The song is a story of two youths; one with addiction issues, the other who was perfect in the eyes of many, but so far from perfect behind closed doors. There’s more than meets the ear as the artist paints the picture, but allows the listener to draw their own conclusion.
There are many high points on “The Introductory Mixtape”, but there are some low points that prevent this contribution from being unblemished. The synth heavy track “Fists Up” features lackluster production and a less than stellar performance by special guest Malfunction. “Road to Change” pairs inspiring lyricism with uninspiring production, which creates an imbalance of creativity. The mixtape does however bounce back with solid tracks like “Ask About Us”, which borrows the music from Lloyd’s “All Around the World”. The guest appearance by fellow emcee Sparv adds the spark that fuels the track’s fire. Other honorable mentions are the Blitz produced “Fake and Real” and the summertime soundtrack cut “Summer Days”.
Hip-Hop stated out in The Bronx, but has grown to become a worldwide phenomenon. There’s 1,941 miles that separate Regina from the Mecca of Hip-Hop. That’s a trip worth taking to be captivated by one of the most prolific minds in Canada.