Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Shad

  • The Old Prince [Black Box, 2007] **
  • TSOL [Black Box/Decon, 2010] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Old Prince [Black Box, 2007]
Conscious hip-hop Rwanda-Ontario style, comedy included ("The Old Prince Still Lives at Home," "I Don't Like To"). **

TSOL [Black Box/Decon, 2010]
Why are Canadian rappers so clean? OK, I guess we know--they're Canadian. Still, this second-generation Rwandan Torontan stands a major chance of being confused with the fatally bland K-Os, and that's a shame for somebody who fairly bills himself as "Rakim--North Pole Edition." Seems like a genuine Christian, as in "Listening to Strange Fruit, Jeru, and Beirut/Trying to listen to Je-Sus is hard as fake boobs at times," and for what it's worth, I'm glad he knows how boobs feel, because it undercuts that goody-goody thing. This is especially true because I don't recall previously encountering a rap as pro-woman as the one that goes, "I talk to women/I just can't talk for women, that's for you." But now I'm making him sound like a goody-goody when on top of some serious political smarts he's both clever and funny: "I don't badmouth but I quickly/Put down a cat if he bit me/Like Roy's boy Siegfried./Welcome to the big leagues, where they pitch heat . . ." Yes, he nails those internal rhymes. Nobody's Rakim. But he earns the brag. A-