Dayton OH, creative artist, Shades, writes, produces, records, and mixes his own music. Combining elements of hip-hop, punk-rock, RnB, and jazz, together with his background in classical piano, each recording comes out entirely unique from the last. This isn’t “mass-consumption” music. If you still enjoy having rappers tell you about their money, jewels, and how dope they are… go buy another record and wash your mouth with buckshot. This is the art of storytelling right here…and making incredible music. Shades has just released the album “Legion Vol. 1”, which is one of three that will be released before the end of June.
The musicianship here is at its finest, and Shades delivers in such a personal way that you can’t help but to be drawn in. Let just say I was trapped on an island and I had to pick 5 albums released in 2018 to have with me, this would be one of them. And if this doesn’t sound like such a tall order to you, consider that I listen to an average of 20 new artists daily!
You can argue if you wish, but it would only be delaying the inevitable outcome- times are bad for hip-hop and music in general. It seems now the time is right for Shades to blast out from the underground- and he couldn’t have made a better record to do it with. “Legion Vol. 1” is a collection of eclectic, diverse and challenging hip-hop, with brilliance shining through in both the vibrant lyrics, and ambitious production, leaving no rock upturned between alternative musical themes and electronica.
You can have a jazz based groove like “4443”, or you can choose a pure piano motif like “Cry of the Catacombs”. Then again you could slide into the energetic forward momentum of the fast paced rhymes on “Monologues (Pt. 1)”.
My personal favorites include the slinky rhythm and emotional flows on “Killer”, the tongue twisting verses on “Banana Clip”, the devastatingly dark soundscape on “Departed”, as well as the vocal angst on “Mirror”, and probably the best beat in the entire collection, on “Hush”. Few can come close to Shades’ intricacy, dynamism and explosivity, as he switches his flow up and down between songs.
It’s certainly not what you would expect to find in an era where ringtone and mumble rap reigns supreme, and can definitely be seen as a breath of fresh air. No matter what the character on each track, Shades makes the entire affair hugely listenable with his respective skills – be that production or lyrical wise.
It’s early days yet, but at this time, it appears doubtful that many hip-hop albums will better “Legion Vol. 1” this year in terms of overall excellence, and it is almost a certainty that the recording will have a lasting impression on whoever listens to it.
Through nine fully fleshed out, and masterfully executed, narratives and instrumentals, Shades has given us an album of solid gold that makes for very enticing listening throughout. This is the sound of an artist expanding beyond hip-hop while challenging borders some fans of the genre would see fit to put up to pigeonhole it into.