With apologies to Kenny Shane we’re too late to do the obvious MLB tie-in – the World Series ended just under two weeks ago. Perhaps it’s not so obvious though – some of our readers might not have a subscription to HBO. Hell Idon’t have a subscription to HBO, but that didn’t stop me from getting up on Kenny Powers. The profanity-laced tirades of this fictional ex-MLB baseball player are the stuff that viral YouTube videos are made of. Before the show Danny McBride may have been best known for appearing in movies with Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow, but the actor/comedian made a name for himself with his hilariously egotistical washed up athlete alter ego on “Eastbound & Down.” Even the books on tape version of his autobiography featured pronouncements like “So that is why I am better than everyone in the world. Kiss my ass and suck my d#%! – everyone.”
Unsurprisingly these comedic moments make perfect sampling material for a rapper showing off his cockiness. Kenny Shane took it even further by having Danny McBride’s alter ego be HIS alter ego – going so far as to style the cover of his mixtape with the same baseball font as the TV show’s logo, right down to parodying the downward sweep trailing the D. On the Fresco Stevens produced “Dedimication” he has his Kenny Powers in full effect, declaring that all of his doubters and haters make him better. “For those that do not believe/didn’t believe, and do not believe it/even my mother, I love you/I love my non-believers.” It’s the same swagger you can hear on the Wonderlust produced “You Ain’t Better,” a song putting anyone who even dares to compare to Shane in their place.
The rapper who was formerly known as Era has definitely found a niche with this new gimmick, and good production helps him get there. Of course given that this is a mixtape that Shane is also giving away online for free (though I appreciate he sent me a hard copy of the CD) not all of the beats are original. “All Night” is an incredibly fly song, but you have to give J Dilla and The Roots their props for that one. There are a few bonus tracks from Shane’s “Gawn” LP though that are undeniably his though, such as the Jux Soundz produced “Chemtrails.”
It’s not nearly the conspiracy theory rap you might think based on the title – Kenny Shane should not be confused with Immortal Technique. He only vaguely hints that there’s anything wrong with the world we live in, noting that “if you tired there’s a pill for that/can’t sleep there’s a pill for that/if you stressed there’s a pill for that/wan’ get over your pills there’s a pill for that.” It doesn’t get much deeper than that. That’s the yin and the yang of Kenny Shane really. He’s got a “Party Flow” and some good punchlines here and there, and there’s nothing that you can hate about him, but it’s probably all to the best he chose a Kenny Powers theme for “Eastbound & Gawn” to grab my interest. Let me be perfectly clear – Kenny Shane doesn’t make me want to rip off my headphones or change the disc in my CD player – but I’m not hitting repeat either. It’s a decent mixtape with some funny HBO interludes. It’s filler material that will keep your audio mix flowing as his lines keep flowing, but nothing just comes right out and grabs you – except maybe for those bonus tracks. We’ll see what I think after I check out “The Gawn LP.”