The purity of grit is the quest of Hell’s Arts. The true artists are born through the heaven of Art’s idea and propelled by the living wisdom they come to create. In this grime of NYC, where Hip Hop came to permeate through the entire universe in proper booms and righteous raps, it also stagnates in putrid pop and sellout writs. So the right of hell is no more with no love intended in the works. This truth of a music that suffers through exploitation battering it to deadstock enlivens a Queens, New York MC to debut with a revival.
Shaz Illyork is the epitome of the traveled Artist of the pen. He has drawn and written his way through countless ciphers and experiences. The product of his journeys has allowed him to be one of the LO Lifes crew’s most visible presentations of its classic Hip Hop fashion, an exceptionally ingenious graffiti artist in its many disciplines and an MC with one of the strongest original material mixtape catalogs this decade. With Deadstock Revival, he unites his catalog’s ideas into a bio-theme and presents a survey of his talents incredibly.
The array of Deadstock Revival is based on preserving the Art by simply presenting the Art. It is a bio-theme for Shaz who has come to his ever-developing self-identity through all of these Hip Hop expressions. The album is a powerful display of Shaz’ character, his intentions and his vast artistic sense. As an MC, Shaz is led by an intense articulation and a fruitful obsession for the ill quotable. All delivered with a deep raspy tone that doesn’t affect his speed and agility, he consistently relays his life in creative phrase fragments (“hood to hood/ hand to hand/ rally/ with a strategy/ packed to the capacity/ mad at me/ cuz I stay flashy/ in the garments/ rap second/ but first I was a bomber/ always went the hardest/ on a dolo tunnel mission/ stay safe/ you ain’t living…” (“Extraordinary Humans”) throughout Deadstock Revival. The constant reference to his graf excursions, Hip Hop music memories as a listener and MC, street tales and summative revelations is refreshing and intriguingly told throughout.
Studying the content and Shaz’ MC bio-theme is best told with the beats in hand. The power of Deadstock Revival is based on Shaz’ beat choices and the work of Goldenchild on specific beats made and with his strong engineering work. Shaz has a great skill in track selection and it is evident when he verses the right subjects on the right soundscape. There is Breakbeat Lou’s use of soul humming and reigniting drums that guides Shaz’ “First Born” letter to his new baby boy. “Blindsided” goes into the pitfalls of drug use with Tre Eiht’s lovely piano notes of somberness, smooth bass drum and sharp snare. Loops are chaotically altered on “So It Begins” with JM Productions throwing in a piano chord under a snare driven boom-boom-bap break that switches between piano and strings. Again, another of the many tracks where the music is deliberately arranged to reignite the MC. Then the purity of Hip Hop is epitomized on Level 13’s “Nine Seven Era” with epic bass drums and accompanying horns all isolated on a well-chosen foreign voice loop. For the battle tracks, the energy is created with organ keys on George Black’s “Extraordinary Humans” or the repetitive guitar plucks, booming bassline and sharp drums on Silent Someone’s “Power Pieces.” Lyrically, the signature track where Shaz shows himself as a traveling Ill Yorker artist is “The Shaman” where Ligalize lays a groove that is meditative in its digi loop and very crunchy drums.
Shaz notes in the interview clips used here, as he reiterated with me, that his work is not done to niche a “real Hip Hop” market; rather, this is what he does and it is now being noticed. To do it, the peak value of the Hip Hop beat has to be there. The work of Goldenchild on production highlights his work on ensuring the entire album has an equalized level of grittiness yet a clarity of sound that exemplifies the best of Hip Hop instrumental’s united chaos. For the sick visuals Shaz provides on “The Psychology of a Sociopath” GC uses vocal wails and timed blips through a long yet heavy snare track. “Broadway Lafayette” is a classic B-Boy track because of the oddity of the vocal sampling that propel Starker’s rebelliousness and the renegade vibes of Shaz. Then there is the immediate classic of the album, “Chopper,” which earned it a G-Mix that includes a new verse from Shaz (one of the last cuts recorded this writer had the honor of witnessing, it reveals the complexity of Shaz’ rhyme patterns are going). Chopper” easily has the most memorable loop of the year with a piercing horn that hangs itself long into an addictive melody that recharges the break. The break is a very sharp snare over the pensive drum work of a subtle march. This led Shaz into the only hook possible, “One, two, three, Chop” and into some of his best verses of fury ranging from socio-cultural statements to the authenticity of the NYC street warrior.
An MC who has gone through many ciphers and crews to make memorable mixtapes, his features are not overdone and plotted well. It all has to begin with mention of Starker. Starker’s exaggerated montone dynamically relaying character and technique with surprise inflections and chaotic fluctuations make him the dominant feature (i.e. “Tapedecks” – “you just another dead body I throw up in my basement”). Just approaching his early twenties, Starker is on the level of any of the best MCs his age today and continues to shine on his appearances. When Shaz speaks of a revival, it’s because there are young brothers this skilled. Aside from Starker, Starvin B subtly captures ears (“Blindsided” and “Extraordinary Humans”) with verses that reveal him to be one of the most technically gifted MCs today. As subtly talented that Starvin B appeared, Nems overtly thrills with the cleverest punchlines on the “Chopper G-Mix” and “Extraordinary Humans” also. Features from the MC leader of the resurrection Sean P, the sinister AG da Coroner and Poison Pen all serve as ideal representations of their best gifts.
This total combination of beat and rhyme, the song, that Shaz achieved classically on “Chopper” for the perfect Hip Hop NYC gritty lyric song, is repeated on many levels. Ultimately, Deadstock Revival is a tough stand for purity, Boom Bap and all those things beautifully gritty. It’s a debut that Shaz filled with his Art of Life: Ill York Hip Hop.
KNOWLEDGE the feature interview on Shaz Illyork HERE
BUY @ ITUNES HERE