Posted on December 1, 2012 AT 01:35pm
I’ve never been one to listen to a lot of swagged out, club style, trap/southern style music. If anything I find myself appreciating the production more than I do the lyrics. Admittedly my knowledge on west coast hip-hop is kind of limited as well. Rap with drug references and descriptions of sex are so plentiful that I’m sure that no one would be able to listen to every one of them within their lifetime. So if you’re looking for something interesting, you kind of have to be picky and find what stands out to you the most. That is, if you’re looking for it… Enter the Shadowrunners click and their latest release “Cyberdine” to throw in a stand-out sound.
Shadowrunners is a Los Angeles, California hip-hop group consisting of rapper Himself The Majestic and producer Froskees, who is also one half of the production crew City of Thieves. They’ve been hammering out songs for a few years and have attracted a few fans with their notable 2011 release, 808-Bit-Revenge, an album that consisted of production that used video game samples, a lot of partying and a bit of personal content. Right off the bat, they don’t seem like an ordinary sex, drugs and crazy s**t kind of group. Rather than hit you with a bunch of psuedo-gangster drooling, Cyberdine, and anything else from their catalogue, comes off with a more interesting vibe in their material. The sex, partying and drugs are all there, but it comes with it’s own culture that blends a bit of the street sound with a bunch of nerdiness and comedic ridiculousness. Overall, these dudes aren’t ones to take themselves too seriously. Cyberdine comes packed with video game, comic, wrestling and anime references along with the aforementioned debauchery. If you’re one to be bored with the usual 2chainz and Chief Keef fare, this may prove to be entertaining for some listeners.
Production-wise, Froskees comes with some really entertaining stuff. Essentially turning the world into his own sampling playground. Using everything from video games like Aliens, and Castlevania III to old japanese animes like Urusei Yatsura and Majokko Megu-chan. In the song Smooth, featuring guest vocals from Antwon, he samples something that sounds like the Safety Dance, which makes for a really fun listen. Each track shows that he has an ear for making an entertaining track out of whatever he wants. Not just your typical “sample the chorus so the rapper/singer won’t have to write their own” deal. The beats range from trap style tracks like Harpsichord and Whatchuknowabout ft DCxDCxDC. to bouncy tracks like No Issue ft Western Tink which feature these grand sounding “event horns”. For the most part, it’s meant to get a party going and get people moving while at the same time entertaining the trivia part of your mind with the plethora of strange samples used. Each track and sample feels like it serves its purpose which is really nice. It comes off like a producer that is interested in crafting a new song out of an old one instead if trying to impress you with how many 8 and 16 bit songs he can flip.
On the lyric front, Himself The Majestic is fun to listen to even if you have no idea what he’s talking about. From start to finish his content centers around sci-fi weirdness, references to wrestlers like Rowdy Roddy Piper and Ted DiBiase interspersed with drug riddled party antics reminiscent of a Danny Brown track. He throws in so many references but doesn’t seem to make it all feel forced which can be quite the pitfall for some rappers that choose to be reference heavy in their lyrics. However, flow wise, he doesn’t stray too far from his usual style. Himself sort of sticks to riding the beat and keeping it simple; which isn’t too bad because it sounds like he’s staying within a comfortable zone. The only problem that arises is that comes off as limited after a while of listening and sometimes feels a bit TOO simple. He does switch up his flow from time to time but some more versatility couldn’t hurt. Still, you aren’t listening for anything particularly deep or poignant. Shadowrunners mostly focuses on partying, debauchery, money and nerdy stuff. This is the kind of album you listen to when you want to get wild, but you have a bad habit of breaking the “pop music 4th wall” and find that your usual party/swag raps leave a sour taste in your mouth.
Overall, Cyberdine is a worthy listen that fans of booming club/rap music could enjoy and definitely worthy of some DJ spins. Its also an interesting listen for the huge amount of geek pop culture references thrown in. Cyberdine is available via whatever price you choose on Bandcamp or free directly from them on facebook. Also, feel free to check out their latest video “Japan”.
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