Not much is really known about Hip-Hop artist Shed Light apart from him developing a reputation as an underground battle emcee early on in his career and releasing his debut album, Perseverance, in 2005. In terms of the web, there is virtually nothing said about the artist on the pages I’ve found: His record label, Early Spotter, appears to have disbanded; the above distorted photograph is one of only two existing images of the artist anywhere; and his myspace — Shed’s only method of social networking — hasn’t been active in over two years.
The world is bigger than the Internet, sure, but it seems strange to me in this day and age that an artist hustling for recognition is seemingly lacking in sources of information. In fact, I only discovered the artist by complete chance, myself, back in the days of Napster, where I came across a track called ‘Forwards Or Backwards’, which had been incorrectly assigned to accomplished lyricist Chino XL. I first mentioned such track in a recent blog entry, ‘Unheard-Of Hip-Hop Classic’, which spoke of my desire to find out who was responsible for this awesome track, and whether or not they had put out any more music.
Well, thanks to a very informative reply, I soon discovered that the artist’s name was Shed Light and the track ‘Forwards Or Backwards’ was from his only official LP release, which I was able to pick up for just over £1 on Amazon not long after. Opening with some boom-bap-led production and impressive scratching techniques on the short intro track, things got off to a good start when I popped the CD into my player and began listening to the album for the first time, which left me anticipating what was about to follow.
The next track, ‘Failure Is Not an Option’, though, I found to be less impressive. Albeit having a hardcore beat at its core, Shed’s lyrics (and, in particular, his punchlines) seemed very average to me; and the hook (I wanna be the cat that runs this/ Fuck stackin’ 1s/ I’m stackin’ hundreds/”) sounded very much like many Hip-Hop hooks I’ve heard before. Despite having a voice and flow very similar to Esoteric (who I’m a fan of, by the way), the battle rhymes on ‘How You Like Them Apples’, ‘Accurate Aim’ and ‘Bash Brothers’ didn’t exactly blow me away, either.
The light-hearted “fun” songs like ‘Voluptuous Ladies’, ‘Shed Heads’ and ‘Everyone And Their Mother Wants To Be An Emcee’ take Perseverance to its most enjoyable level. The latter, especially, tells the story of Shed coming home one day to find his mother rapping away to some of his old Hip-Hop LPs, and then eventually getting signed to a popular record label that leads to her working with Xzibit, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg. Shed’s (supposedly) real-life story is not only told very confidently, but very humorously, also, and the upbeat piano-sampled production only enhances the enjoyment further.
‘My #1 Girl’ and ‘Song For Dad’ talk about parental influence, but it is the song I actually bought this album for — ‘Forwards Or Backwards’ — that really give an indication of Shed Life’s potential as a music artist. Fuelled with frustration and a real insightful overview of how the everyday world functions, the emcee rips into the dog-eat-dog nature of the elite and those who feed in to it (“In this world of hot stakes and mad drama/ It’s getting harder to turn the other cheek like Mahatma/ Prejudice and greed are reasons why this world is damaged/ Some people get perverse pleasure pissing on the ten commandments/”) The hook also samples Nas’ lyrics from ‘Ghetto Prisoners’: “What’s a wicked nation?/ One with blind men,” — which are expertly chopped up and cut in by DJ Fakts One.
It’s a shame there’s no other tracks on the album that come close to the socio-political rawness/coherence of ‘Forwards Or Backwards’. The album, as a whole, is an easy listen, and Shed’s undeniably got talent, but I’ve heard emcees come a lot harder, especially with the battle-rap style that is exhibited here (‘Nice Knowin’ Ya’ is the most unconvincing track on the whole album). If Shed Light is still making music, then I’ve a feeling his next effort will be an improvement; his desire to tackle a variety of styles is admirable, but his all-round execution doesn’t seem to be quite there yet.