Shyne-Gangland mixtape review
When Shyne made it out of his legal trouble the people who were around for his initial run were very hopeful. He had carved out a niche whispering truly elaborate mob stories that Biggie would have been proud of over exciting Bad Boy production. Everyone who looked forward to his music previously, wanted those days back. No one who awaited his comeback was expecting anything like what he delivered on his new mixtape Gangland.
Shyne is in a very different state of mind than before. Since he was deported to Belize in 2009 he’s been stewing in a strange mixture of emotions. Gangland reflects that perfectly, from the tracklisting you can see where his head is at. Track seven is named Meyer Lansky after the infamous Jewish gangster(Shyne is orthodox). Track eight is named Bobby Seale after the co-creator of the black panther party. Track four is named Frank Mathews after the drug kingpin. In the song Bobby Seale, Shyne addresses a judge and lets him know that he was just a pawn in the CIA control of drug trafficking. He’s not just paranoid, remorse is all over Gangland. On Meyer Lansky he spits “Sometimes I can’t sleep nightmares thinking Imma be the killer of my people but poverty is the evil. Poverty the reason why I go and slang that diesel.” He’s not just regretting his dealing but utilizing his paranoia and sociological arguments to make excuses, you can debate how crazy he is on this but you can’t debate the tension in the verse. It’s not a casual mention either, on Buffalo Soldier he says more crazy things “I’mma go straight to hell for the lives I destroyed, but I’d rather burn in hell than be living unemployed.” Paranoia, check. Drug stories, check. Headscratching life lessons, check. Let me add something else to the mix.
On Gangland Shyne is vengeful as all get out. You’re Welcome is his big middle finger to Diddy delivered over a chanting female voice and smokey boom bap beat. He comes to a near shout as he describes “…to sacrifice me just so he could get away free. This does not comply with the steets…but he ain’t from there. This is not a smear, this is what they fear…the whole truth I swear.” Shortly after he goes even further “Look…I seen the plot, what he did to Ma$e, what he did to the Lox. God bless the dead, Notorious, Pac. Why would I think that I was different? So I just sat in the distance kept my mouth closed, looked and listened, learned all the trades of the sharks and fishes.” He blames Diddy for everything up to and including Pac and Big dying, all through insinuation. Nothing gets too specific.
So we have the vengeance, the drug dealers remorse, the political and social paranoia( on the song BG he compares coverage of rap to playboy, Robert Blake to OJ, and Michael Jackson controversy to Peter Townsend controversy in the strangest finger wag at media racism this year). Take all of this and add the final component; his vocal change. Shyne isn’t whispering threateningly anymore. On songs like 50-Life when he’s bemoaning not getting a thank you letter from J-Lo or screaming to god he’s doing it in a nasal slide from quiet to shouting that is ,for the ears of anyone familiar, Muppet voice.
All the spooky hardcore production, block politics, and strange insinuations are delivered with evil Kermit voice in the foreground. Most hip hop fans cite this as one of the great tragedies, grasping to try and understand why this change took place. I have to say the combination of dissing, preaching, and confessing behind this completely off-putting delivery keeps me interested in Gangland through repeated listenings. Beyond all the odd novelty of it…a demented intelligence, a warped perspective opens throughout the eighteen tracks. If you open yourself to it, you’ll stay interested. Even if you shake your head a few times.
Stream or download Gangland below: