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Shadowrunners – Shadowrunners [Review]

Posted on October 20, 2013 AT 06:26pm

Parties are lame now… Especially in Illinois, where all you tend to get, depending on where you go to, are the latest un-fun products of Chicago’s abandoned youth fueled by broken homes, molly, loud packs and FL Studio or some goofy megamix of whomever is invading our personal spaces with their top 40 hits. It all gets a monotonous and it’s enough to cave your skull in.  So whenever Shadowrunners puts something out, I’m interested in what they have to bring to the table.

Shadowrunners are a LA based Rapper/Producer duo featuring rhymes by Andre Martel (formerly Himself, The Majestic) and beats by Froskees. Following up from their 2012 effort Cyberdine, which I’ve reviewed previously, they bless the public with their new self titled release.   It features what fans can come to expect from previous albums, beats fit for parties and cruising, nerdy references to various movies, video games and anime and a lot of the goofy fun stuff that comes with rap that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  There are some improvements however, for one, Andre/Himself comes to many of the tracks on this album with different flows which definitely makes for more interesting music overall. He still rides the beat comfortably, but when he chooses different flows for tracks like 143, Cold Hearts or Sentinels. He doesn’t stumble over himself trying to do something new.  Lyrically, he’s darker at times, starting off European Cars with “Bitch I’m already dead/Had to answer my killer/I’m never prayin’ to god/I get no answer, just filler”.  The track itself is pretty catchy and definitely repeat-worthy for an intro.  Throughout the album he undulates between Happy/Party and Bitter/Depressed, sometimes showing off bits in-between. It’s a fantastic song for those times when there are simply no f***ks left to give.  In Stay Alert, we’re greeted with bits of bragging but for the most part he paints a picture of the gritty, filthy Cali scene juxtaposed with sci-fi and comic references.  He doesn’t spend forever being dark though, jumping right back into the fun-loving, ballin’, cool-as-f**k nerd in songs like Dolly Parton, Flip Phone and Megazord.

On the production side, Froskees, as always, has never truly been one to be a let down beat wise. Some beats may be more interesting than others, but the dude remains to be LA’s best kept secret when it comes to entertaining production.  The fun part is that he makes these beats that you would catch many producers doing in line with the current trend but doesn’t simply leave it at that. Hip-Hop/Club tracks and trap beats are infused with samples from various video games, anime and soul/R&B tracks.  It often makes trying to find out just who or what he sampled the most fun part about listening to this album more than once.  It especially gets interesting when you finally figure it out. (Funfact: one of the tracks samples “Pon Pon Pon”.) He’ll go from trap beats with rattlesnake hi-hats on songs like Sentenels, whip out a slow cruiser like Multipass and some sort of EDM influenced vibe like Flip Phone. My personal favorite is Shining Overture which takes that trap style but drops any chance for overdone horn synths and uses a sample that sounds like it came out of a JRPG soundtrack.

Overall, the album is a bit less feature heavy compared to Cyberdine, which isn’t bad as Andre holds his own quite well, not sounding boring or anything. Antwon, another Nature Boy crew member makes an appearance on 143 and doesn’t disappoint either.  The songs are incredibly short, mostly giving you the meat of it without much flourish.  In a way it’s good and possibly stems from their LA Hardcore/Punk backgrounds, giving you a 2-3 minute punch of good music and not overstaying their welcome. At times it makes one wonder why certain songs aren’t longer; some songs could totally benefit from it because the beats are so well done. At the same time, the brevity of each song inspires one to put the album, or at least a bunch of the songs, on repeat without being annoying.  It’s a fun,  varied album, not giving you too much of one thing at once. If it doesn’t hit you from the start, it’s definitely an album that grows on you given a few plays.

I definitely give this album a solid 8 out of 10. 

Shadowrunners is available via Bandcamp at Free/Name Your Own Price and on Youtube.

Favorite Tracks: European Cars, 143, Megazord, Multipass, Shining Overture

Least Favorite Tracks: Dolly Parton. (It’s a grower, but it just wasn’t my favorite)

I am a photographer for Depth Mental Photography and a metal vocalist for Redgrave Syndicate. I'm on twitter (@ReaperX_) where I can be found hashtagging ridiculous things. For DigitalNoob, I write music columns and some things that pertain to gaming. I like rubber ducks, Heavy Metal, sriracha rooster sauce, youtube vlogs, pizza and sometimes I tumblr. How are you guys?

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