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Shad - TSOL Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.25
Musicianship 9.75
Lyrics 9.5
Production 9.5
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 9.25
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Final Verdict: 95%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.05
Musicianship 8.35
Lyrics 8.4
Production 8.4
Creativity 8.4
Lasting Value 8.4
Reviewer Tilt 8.45
Average: 84%
Inside AP.net

Shad - TSOL

Reviewed by: Thomas Nassiff (01/27/11)
Shad - TSOL
Release Date: October 5, 2010 (American). Released in May 2010 in Oh, Canada.
Record Label: Black Box Recordings


As far as underground hip-hop goes on this website, the Doomtree collective gets a lot of praise from the users here at AbsolutePunk. That's both well-deserved and excellent, because Doomtree is full of phenomenal talents, both rappers and producers alike.

But a lot of users here think that underground rap starts and ends right there, and it certainly does not. Shad is a Canadian rapper who gained a good amount of attention in the northern regions with his 2007 release, The Old Prince. That album garnered him several award nominations and won him an Indie Award in 2009. While he might no longer qualify as supremely underground to the nitpickers, he most certainly isn't mainstream.

Shad's most recent album, 2010's TSOL, builds right where The Old Prince left off, and is even more impressive. Shad's unmistakably distinctive vocal stylings are back, as his clear and punctuated enunciation carry his poetry in a vivid way. As older Shad fans would expect, the lyrics are hardly one-dimensional on TSOL, exploring concepts like his biblical namesake ("A Good Name"), the lack of depth in today's mainstream music ("Listen") and some troubles with human morality ("At the Same Time").

As deadly serious as a lot of TSOL is, Shad isn't about to lose your interest anytime soon. His nasally delivery of his most witty one-liners is just as strong as his ability to slow things down and get personal over a slow beat. With a monstrous flow that can parallel anyone, Shad shows the ability to write a lead single that can be as appealing as a deep cut on this album.

The first single from TSOL, "Yaa I Get It," is chock-full of whoops-you-stopped-listening-and-you-missed-it one-liners and similes. Just like on "The Old Prince Still Lives At Home" from his last album, listeners find Shad poking fun at himself with his well-documented, self-deprecating humor. You don't need to venture past the first lines of the song to find it: "I get it / Maybe I'm not big 'cause I don't blog or Twitter / Dawg I'm bitter." He pokes fun at his lack of big-time fame in the self-reflective song, which showcases not only his unrealistically fluid and witty lyricism but also his aforementioned furious flow. The song is a trip to listen to with the lyrics in front of you, and is even better to hear blasted in a car as the production and beat are incredible here.

The second single, "Rose Garden," is perhaps the strongest track on the record, which dropped in May. The song is light-hearted, bouncy and fun, centered around a loop of a soul song, and Shad's vocals blend perfectly with the sample.

As was mentioned before, Shad gets serious quite a few times on TSOL, like on the one-two punch of "Lucky 1's" and "A Good Name." The latter is one of the best lyrical cuts on the record, as Shad takes listeners through the story of his biblical namesake. In one of the more badass parts of the bible, a slave named Shadrach refuses to bow down to the golden statue of a king, and the enraged king sentences the slave to be burned to death in a furnace. Shadrach walks through the fire unscathed while the guards who threw him in burn to death. It's a good song.

Later on in the album, another set of back-to-back serious songs is "Listen" and "At the Same Time." The former sees Shad expressing his disapproval over the watered-down nature of mainstream music while the latter perhaps best shows the rapper's versatility. A slow beat, smooth guitar part and eventually bluesy horns pave the way for this track.

"We, Myself, and I" is the last full song on TSOL, succeeded only by a one-minute outro. The music here is blistering and sounds like it's absolutely on fire. Shad goes fast and hard on this song, another doozy to listen to with the lyrics. It's a great (almost) ending to a nearly flawless album. If you do make it to the outro, you'll be glad you did, as Shad takes this one a capella.

Shad says on "Yaa I Get It" that he hates the phrase "Canadian rap sensation," but really that's the most convenient way to describe him. The East and West coasts of the United States get the most credit in the hip-hop world, and not many knowledgeable rap fanatics would point to Canada as a hotbed of talent in that scene. But that's okay, Shad can support that country's rap conglomerate by himself.

This is the sort of artist that needs a wider fanbase, that deserves to see mainstream success. Putting it up against similar releases, like Sims' upcoming Bad Time Zoo, I find TSOL to be both more enjoyable and more satisfying of a listen. The singles are catchier and the serious songs are more impressive. The instrumentals are deeper and the lyrics are more eye-popping. Every time I listen to this album, it's 41 minutes that I want to relive immediately, and that's even with the upcoming Yellowcard album in my iTunes.

Maybe not many will agree with me, and the largest support from this website toward hip-hop will continue to go to artists other than Shad. But that's just fine with him, he'll probably slyly mention it in a one-liner on his next phenomenal record.

Recommended If You LikeThe Old Prince, the London (England) rap sound, other stuff.
Follow Me On TwitterShad does. Jaykay, he doesn't tweet. Weren't you paying attention?
Bare Essentials1. Intro
2. Rose Garden
3. Keep Shining
4. Lucky 1's
5. A Good Name
6. We Are the Ones (Reservoir Poetry)
7. Telephone
8. Call Waiting (Interlude)
9. Yaa I Get It
10. Listen
11. At the Same Time
12. We, Myself, and I
13. Outro
Produced By: A host of people. Run Time: 41 minutes.
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars, yo.
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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 61
10:29 PM on 01/27/11
#2
InBetweenAisles
WeReadTheSignsCompletelyB ackwards
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Such a good artist. Favorite song has got to be Rose Garden just because it has Lisa Lobsinger on it.
10:29 PM on 01/27/11
#3
bandnamexmyname
&^%^&
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I <3 this.
10:30 PM on 01/27/11
#4
bandnamexmyname
&^%^&
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bandnamexmyname's Avatar
Of last year?
10:31 PM on 01/27/11
#5
Bloodsucker II
ExcuuUUuuse ME, princess!
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Whoa, thank you for this review! Because of you I just went and listened to this. Freakin awesome.
10:40 PM on 01/27/11
#6
weworemasks
save the drama for wilmer valderama
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why even mention doomtree? those two have nothing to do with each other.
11:04 PM on 01/27/11
#7
Cody Nelson
Your mouth to God's south.
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they're apparently the watermark for hip hop artists on this site.
Instead of the points system, hip hop albums will be rated on a scale of 1-10 POSes

It's actually ranked as such: TSOL is Never Better than Never Better; Never Better is Never Better than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and so on and so forth. Sadly, with this system, there's no grammatical way to say two albums are pretty much the same.
11:20 PM on 01/27/11
#8
live.
Feenay! Fee hee hee hee heenay!
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I'm surprised that this wasn't reviewed sooner. Awesome piece about a top notch record, though.
11:21 PM on 01/27/11
#9
lotusmilano
just follow your heart
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So glad to see Shad receiving the attention he deserves. Great review Thomas!
11:54 PM on 01/27/11
Dre Okorley
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I'm so happy to see Shad finally reviewed here. Hopefully now he'll have more than 5 fans on his profile. Good review!
11:55 PM on 01/27/11
HaileyItHappens
I would make tits more sense
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It's actually ranked as such: TSOL is Never Better than Never Better; Never Better is Never Better than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and so on and so forth. Sadly, with this system, there's no grammatical way to say two albums are pretty much the same.
Best post. I will read this post instead of the review over and over.
11:57 PM on 01/27/11
Dre Okorley
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It's actually ranked as such: TSOL is Never Better than Never Better; Never Better is Never Better than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and so on and so forth. Sadly, with this system, there's no grammatical way to say two albums are pretty much the same.
TSOL >>> NB, def.
12:01 AM on 01/28/11
Cody Nelson
Your mouth to God's south.
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Oof. I hate to be that guy, but I just can't agree with this. I'm no Doomtree slut like some people here, but Never Better just kills me, every time. Both fabulous records, though.
12:07 AM on 01/28/11
Dre Okorley
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Oof. I hate to be that guy, but I just can't agree with this. I'm no Doomtree slut like some people here, but Never Better just kills me, every time. Both fabulous records, though.
They are both really good records, true. I'd like to hear why you think that POS' release outdoes Shad's, but I'll PM you.
12:08 AM on 01/28/11
11:11
Soft sound
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Favorite song on this has to be Telephone.
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