At the moment of this review, Shyne Po is Hip-Hop’s most wanted. Originally a Bad Boy-signee, Shyne’s first CD suffered in sales because Po was labeled a Biggie sound-alike. But after being incarcerated just as his career was taking off, Shyne blows up his rep by revealing a deal with Def Jam, a possible appeal and an album of songs recorded right before his sentencing. All this combined, plus his increasingly noticed back-and-forth with 50 Cent, has made all his fans jump out the woodwork.
1) Buried Alive Intro
Shyne over the phone, telling fans to have faith in him.
2) Quasi OG
A dope-as-hell beat with guitar strings and strums has Po rhyme about how the industry says he’s too thug or dark, and his childhood. The track has the feel that he’s pouring his heart out, and his verses are pretty damn good. (Great)
3) More or Less
Another guitar-filled beat, with a woman wailing opera-style in the background. Shyne spits crazy, grimey verses (love the line ‘I sound like who? Yall sound like trash/’). The only letdown really is Foxy’s too-thick, disgustingly deep voice on the hook. (Good)
4) Behind the Walls (Eastcoast Gangsta Mix) ft. Kurupt, Nate Dogg
A remix of Kurupt and Nate’s joint. Kurupt, as usual spits damn good verses and Nate’s hook is his usual smoothness. Shyne comes in and lays good rhymes, as well. (Great)
Lovin this joint, a string beat laid by Swizz Beatz. Shyne tells the haters to go ***** themselves, borrowing various lines and twisting them, and just generally coming hard as hell. Love the assisted hook, Shyne rhyming and a woman singing “Shyyyyyne…” (Great)
6) For the Record
A clearer, better-qual version of Shyne’s diss to 50 Cent from jail, explaining how 50 sucks and tried to get Shyne to join G-Unit. (Good)
A very deep record, Shyne spits sick, sick verses to an echoey, heartfelt beat, questioning life. Kinda a really good version of Jada’s “why.” Probably my favorite cut on the album. (Excellent)
8) Jimmy Choo ft. Ashanti
A club banger produced by Irv Gotti, who probably wishes he’d discovered and signed Shyne instead of Ja Rule. This is a look at what Murder Inc could be if Rule was replaced with Po, and it sounds damn good. Shyne spits illness with Ashanti singing a great hook over one of Gotti’s best beats. (Excellent)
A track with a darker, simpler string beat, where Shyne raps some good shit about people trying to get his spot. (Great)
10) The Gang ft. Foxy Brown
Over a beat that sounds only slightly different (less layered) than that of Raekwon’s Verbal Intercourse w/ Nas and Ghostface, Shyne rhymes pretty good verses about gangsta and hustlin. Foxy comes on with a pretty good verse at the end, too, but really the only thing special about this track is the beat–and that’s bitten. (Good)
Po over a great, darkish Just Blaze-style beat, spitting about being pushed to the edge. Parts of it sound like a diss to 50 (keep it real dogg, you dyin to be me), but he doesn’t say the name. (Great)
12) Here With Me
A bouncier, more West Coast-sounding almost G-Funk beat gives Shyne rhyme some good verses about lost homies and those who’ve stuck by him. (Great)
13) Diamonds and Mac-10’s
Runner up for my fav cut. Just Blaze laces a horn and piano-intensive beat that sounds like something at the end of a really long action movie where the hero wins; great choice for the last track. Shyne spits deep, personal, sicc lines over it as well. (Excellent)
My Rating: 4.5/5
One of the greatest albums of the year, from someone behind bars. The album has few failing points, and those aren’t very disappointing, and it showcases Po’s ability without too many guest appearances but keeping it fresh. Credit for this goes to the producers as much as Shyne himself, as some of the beats were redone after he was jailed, and the producers did a damn good job of building beats around his vocals.
My Recommendation: Buy it. At this moment, Shyne seems to be perfect at what everyone is trying to do–the modern thug type, sounds good on club records, radio joints, anything. Finally…a much sicker, more authentic, non-***** version of 50 Cent.