NULL

According to his Bandcamp page Shag is a 20 year old University student who loves making beats and has clocked up a ton of releases since December 2009. I discovered Shag through the brilliant hip-hop blog Potholes in My Blog back in June when he put out his “Far, Far Away” album. I was impressed by his instrumental sci-fi hip-hop and would have reviewed it, if it wasn’t for a lack of time. Now comes his latest album “NULL” produced using a combination of dusty MPC samples and Korg MicroKorg and his newly bought Moog Sub Phatty synth.

The album opens with ‘Robots’ that features a portamento Sub Phatty melody that underpins a spoken word sample that sounds like it’s from a pre-50’s T.V. show. Then a great head nodding beat drops with a great synth bass underpinning everything. ‘(The) Funk’ features a great whining G-Funk synth melody over a laid back beat and bouncing, floating chords. Later in the track a phat synth riff takes over from the chords and chimes are introduced. ‘Every Day’ keeps the chimes and puts them over strummed rhythm guitar and vocal sample that sound like there from an old soul record, heavenly backing vocals and a piano melody.

 

‘Mercury’ revisits Shag’s obsessed with space utilising an ascending synth melody, a blocky analogue style synth pad that both recall an 80’s videogame theme, Then a subtle but still snapping beat drops. Next up is ‘Nothing I Can Do’ which opens with a synth thats floats in and double backs on its self. Then the beat and a huge gloopy synth bass and rich, reverberate vocal sample drops, before a soulful vocal sample is intercut with a sampled rap vocal samples, which is a great trick to pull off. The album ends with the double header of ‘In Reality’ and ‘Moving Forward’, the former opens with rhythm guitar and a double time bass drum beat and a rap vocal sample that says ‘fantasy’ a soulful vocal sample is added and interchanges with the rap samples. Then we hit the chorus where a line from Nas and one from Q-Tip are intercut to play with the meanings of the lines in their original context.. There’s some nice bass guitar and rhythm guitar riffs and great filtered synths bubble up in the chorus. The later combines an analogue synth that plays behind a collage of spoken word samples coated in delay. Then the head nodding beat drops and a rap vocal sample echoes out over another fizzy digital synth that cuts through the mix.

After hearing “Far, Far Away” and “NULL” a few times I’ve come to the conclusion that Shag is one of top amateur hip-hop producers self releasing their music right now. That’s saying something when I’m bombarded with hip-hop releases every week via Potholes in my Blog. Buy and stream Shag’s vast catalogue here, you won’t regret it.

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