Album Review | SHADI – You Can’t Hear Me

Note: This review was originally written on July 1st, 2019.

This album is set to be released on August 2nd this year. By the time this review is posted, I will have premiered the first single on July 2nd. SHADI is a young Muslim rapper from Tampa, Florida. He’s dropping this album on Deathbomb Arc, which is pretty much the quintessential experimental Hip Hop label right now. Well, they don’t only do Hip Hop. That’s just what I know them for. If you listen to a lot of Hip Hop, chances are you’ve heard a song from at least one artist who’s released something on the label. They’ve given us work from JPEGMAFIA, clipping., Signor Benedick the Moor, Dos Monos, They Hate Change, and even Death Grips. I first listened to this project at like 3 AM on June 28th. I’m just gonna go ahead and say it. This shit is weird. I… Well… I’ll get into it in a bit…

Just like with the Dope KNife album I reviewed earlier this year, this review is structured differently because I’ve already heard it. First of all, I’m just gonna go ahead and tell y’all that you’re not all gonna love this project. A lot of you will probably hate it. It’s a very inaccessible project. The person who sent me this album told me, “This is either going to really be your thing or you’ll fucking hate it.” Thankfully, the former was true in my case. I think this album is great. Where do I even begin with this shit? This is easily the weirdest album I’ve heard this year. Well, it’s between this and the Slauson Malone album. I think this album is less accessible than that one though. First of all, the production is pure insanity. The person who sent the album to me described it as “Anything goes garbage production, relentless bars, and a complete disregard for any standards in what makes a hip hop beat work.” That’s true, but the crazy thing is that it does work. I have no fucking clue how SHADI managed to make these songs work. He should not be able to rap over these instrumentals, but he somehow pulls it off. It’s crazy. The beats are super chaotic, all over the place, and cacophonous. However, once you get used to it and actually focus on the way SHADI is rapping, it’s super impressive. The way he somehow flows over these ridiculous instrumentals is miraculous. The beats sound like a bunch of elements from different songs of various genres mashed together with a lo-fi recording. The first song kinda sounds like SHADI ranting over the sound of a crowd at a banquet.

Thank you for listening to this
See, this sound presentation
This is not just entertainment
This is my life as a teenager filled with anger

It’s a pretty dope way to open up the album. It’s the shortest song on the project too. That’s another thing worth mentioning; there are only 11 tracks on the project, but it’s still pretty long. Aside from that minute long intro, every track is at least four minutes long. The entire thing is almost an hour. It’s a dense 11 tracks. The second track is the single I premiered on July 2nd. I already talked about it, so I won’t spend too much time discussing it here. Track 3, Would You Mind, is one of just two songs from the album that I didn’t really like. The production was cool, but I couldn’t take SHADI’s autotuned singing. That hook was rough. It was just very unpleasant sonically. The song sounds like a drug-fueled nightmare. The production was dope, but I couldn’t really get into SHADI’s performance. I liked some of his rapping, but the autotuned parts ruined it for me. It’s a decent track, but not something I’d return to. Dollars in the Sea is really dope. I love the beat. It’s definitely my favorite instrumental up to this point in the album. I actually think it’s one of the most accessible tracks on the project. It’s still probably gonna be hard to get into for casual Rap fans. It’s the longest track on the album, but it doesn’t feel like it lasts too long. I don’t really have any issues with it. The hook is dope, SHADI’s verses are tight—especially that last one; his flow was crazy—and the melodic, yet abrasive instrumental is awesome. The song is dope af. The next track, Keys 2 Love, is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. The production is amazing. It sounds like a lo-fi recording of an Indie Rock song. SHADI’s lines about the double standards men have for bi-sexual and lesbian women was dope, and I love the hook. His flow is really smooth too. Honestly, there’s not a single aspect of the song that I dislike. It’s amazing. The beat switches up for the final third of the song, and SHADI uses autotune again. It actually sounds really great here though. There’s one more beat switch for the final quarter of the song, and SHADI’s rapping gets faster and more aggressive. He killed that shit. The next song, The Way It Goes, is even better in my opinion. It’s my favorite song on the whole album. The beat is fucking amazing. It sounds like video game music. In a good way though. It makes me think of 8-bit animation. If there’s a music video for it, I really hope it’s in that style. It’s probably the most accessible song on the album to be honest. SHADI’s vocals aren’t as buried in the mix as they are on other tracks. He killed this shit too. The way he was rhyming about being poor was awesome. He had a line in there about eating ramen with ketchup because he couldn’t afford to eat more nutritious food. I like how the beat slows down and speeds up at certain points throughout the track too.

The champagne only come out when he screaming “fuck you”
Like my pops would do at my mama ’til she’s tearin’ up
Goin’ crazy, not every man Dr. Huxtable, and if the allegations true
I’m glad my dad ain’t use quaaludes; parents divorce, family’s torn

The beat switches up after that last line that I just quoted, and the second beat is just as great as the first one. I love how his flow gets more aggressive during the second half of the song. This is definitely the best produced song on the album in my opinion too. I love every part of the instrumental. It switches up like 3 or 4 times. The final section is definitely my favorite part. SHADI’s singing on the outro is pretty bad technically. I still like it though. It’s like when Kid Cudi or ODB sings. They’re not really good singers, but they make it work. It’s the same thing with SHADI for me. He sounds great on this shit. The song is amazing. It transitions really well into Blood Diamonds too. The beat on this track is pretty accessible too to be honest. SHADI’s shouty delivery and off-kilter flow is what makes the song so weird. Lyrically, it’s one of the hardest songs on the album. The hook is dope, and that line where he said he would sell pills to your kid and then fuck your bitch was funny to me. It’s one of the shorter tracks on the album. The way the beat starts glitching out during the final minute is really cool. Dancing with the Devil’s Daughter might actually be the most inaccessible song on the whole album. It’s weird as fuck. The beat sounds really tribal and bizarre. It almost sounds like a weird ass beat you’d hear in a dance club if you were on the most fucked up drug in existence. I guess the title of the song makes sense. Lyrically, it kinda reminds me of Atmosphere’s Lucy Ford character. He’s being seduced by Satan’s daughter. It’s so fucking weird though. I like it, but goddamn. It’s insane. It sounds like debauchery in the form of music. I didn’t even realize this until the final few seconds of the song, but it’s a metaphor for drug use, which makes it even doper.

Dancing with the Devil’s daughter chemically & physically
Some of my homies fucked her, and now they’re just history
Dancing with the Devil’s daughter can fuck you financially & mentally
Believe me, that bitch look like an angel, but she PCP

That’s dope as hell. The song is fucking wild sonically, but the concept and metaphor is really awesome to me. It’s dope. Only Thing Guaranteed Is Death is another standout track for me. It’s really accessible compared the the song it follows. The beat is really dope, and SHADI kinda toned down his delivery for this song. I like how the beat switches up after two minutes and forty seconds. The content gets way more depressing during this part of the song too.

This is real life thriller
Devil following me home for dinner
Panic attacks when my brother died
I’ma smoke spinach at your door
Waitin’ to smoke you and yours like some swishers

Honestly, it’s the heaviest verse on the whole album. The way he incorporated that sample of the dude saying “I feel like crying” was really cool too. I guess it looks kinda cheesy on paper, but when you actually listen to it it’s dope.

I know it’s people that try and act tough
But inside they need a hug, like “what you acting for?”
My homie acting like he the incredible hulk
Even he gets emotional

That verse hit home man. That shit was awesome. It’s an amazing song, and definitely one of my favorites. Poem for Mom is yet another favorite of mine. It’s exactly what the title implies. The production is really pretty, especially after the first verse ends. The second verse is fantastic, and the effect on the vocals that follow it sound like something I’d hear on a Kanye album. It’s just a really gorgeous song. The final track is one of the weirder songs in my opinion. The filter on SHADI’s vocals makes it hard to hear his lyrics. It’s one of the most abrasive songs on the album. The production didn’t really do much for me to be honest, and it was hard to focus on the lyrics since there was so much going on. It’s not really an enjoyable song for me. It’s not too bad though. It’s an okay track. I just won’t be returning to it personally. The funny thing is, I think I actually liked the song the first time I heard it. I just couldn’t get into it on repeat listens for whatever reason. I don’t know why I liked it before. I was probably still trying to wrap my head around this weird ass album. I was very enamored the first time I heard it. Anyway, I don’t like the song that much now, but it’s a decent track.

This album is great. It’s one of the weirdest albums I’ve ever heard, and I know not everyone is gonna love it as much as I do. This isn’t music for your average rap fan. It takes a certain level of intelligency to truly comprehend the brilliance of SHADI’s artistry. Seriously though, if you’ve never heard an experimental rap album, or experimental music in general, this is gonna be a difficult listen for you. SHADI has a very abrasive delivery. I love how unique his style is though. Nobody sounds like this, and if anyone makes something like this in the future, people will immediately compare them to SHADI. You wouldn’t be able to make something like this and not be accused of biting his style. Also, I think I mentioned this before—it might’ve been when I was talking about the lead single—but it’s astonishing that SHADI completely produced this entire album and performed the whole thing by himself. I feel like that’s super rare these days. I mean, Tyler the Creator said that his album was completely self made, but it’s not like he didn’t have help from featured vocalists and additional instrumentalists. This is a truly self made project though, and you wouldn’t really be able to tell just by listening to it. People may be turned off by the eccentricity, but I feel like a lot of people will find at least one song on this project that they really like. I don’t have any consistent gripes with it. A couple of the songs were just unpleasant to me sonically, but they weren’t completely wack. Most of these tracks had either a really fantastic instrumental or a really interesting concept, if not both. This is one of the most unorthodox albums I’ve heard period. I love it. I hope people take note of how unique this shit is and appreciate it as much as I do. I think this shit is great. It’s a dope album.

Favorite Song: The Way It Goes
Least Favorite Song: iPhone


Grade: A-

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