So I take this CD from off the shelf, insert it and press play. I hear someone saying: “Yo, this been in the making for a minute now, you know?” Someone retorts: “Long time coming, long time coming.” A short back-and-forth unravels. “For real, I feel like we just been long forgotten, but after this shit -,” says the first voice, and the other replies: “Let’s show ’em what we’re worth, let’s show ’em what we’re worth.” The reason for me taking these words somewhat personal and literal is quite simple. Months have passed since I received this promo copy, and I haven’t gotten around to sit down and review it. So just like the record it covers, this write-up has been in the making for a minute now. Let’s see if Shadez were unjustifiably forgotten by RapReviews.

For the record, “Thee Impossible” came out in September 2003. It features guest vocalists and producers Da Grassroots, Urban Legends, Tranny Wu, MC Collizhun and Mood Ruff. Formerly known as Different Shades Of Black (DSB) or Shadez Ov Blac, the three-man crew’s discography dates back as early as 1995, when they had a cassette release on mcenroe’s Peanuts & Corn Records. Their biggest project so far was 1999’s “Comprehension” EP which also featured production by mcenroe. If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re talking about Canadian hip-hop here. More precisely, Skotch, Bigg Casino and Eclipse all hail from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Their full-length debut leaves the listener somewhat bewildered. There’s an evident rift between a few well-executed joints and a lot of junk material. Starting on a positive note, the album’s opener “Man Enough” combines a track reminiscent of quality Beatminerz production with confident vocals:

“Shadez, we here now, it’s all year round
You full throttle dudes gon’ have to gear down
We back with a vengeance, only intention:
Pop the lock on the game with no sign of forceful entrance”

They drop that down-low ninja approach for “Echo”, the first single. This one is meant to provoke some reaction, live, on air, or at clubs, but seems too stodgy to really be able to grab the listener’s attention. The next couple of tracks find Shadez and the respective producers exploring their keyboard’s sound library, resulting in beats that by all standards have to be called amateurish. Subsequently, the rappers don’t feel at home on these tracks, at the very worst resulting in awfully simplistic lyrics that are exarcerbated by slapdash flows:

“Your heart starts to palpitate
I petrify your mindstate
There’s nowhere to evacuate
Your mind will soon disintegrate
from verses that I create
Heads can’t recouperate
Eclipse spits the shit that makes the world shake”

After these rather abysmal performances, the album soars up to take a necessary breather. “Victoria’s Secret” rests on a solid foundation thanks to its smooth sample. That you’re left wondering what exactly Victoria’s Secret is (apart from an appreciated lingerie line) in this cautionary tale, is part of why this songs succeeds.

After another set of generic songs by numbers, “Life” is the album’s most thoughtful moment. The motivational lyrics are in tune with the musical theme, a soulful production complete with R&B chords and subtle background singing:

“Days didn’t think you’d get through
Nights you never slept through
Brethren, never let the pressure get the best of you
Destiny finds us, what I realized is:
Can’t put behind us what lives inside us
Experience be that course that you can’t finish
Never knowin’ your footsteps, what tomorrow delivers
Life ain’t a bitch, she’s a risk, take some chances with her”

Before the flirtatious “Come On Wit Me” closes the album with acoustic guitar strokes and a neo soul-type club bounce, there’s another badly mixed concoction to endure. Considering the blandness of some of the beats and rhymes on “Thee Impossible”, it’s hard to believe that they all evolved out of the same recording session. Here’s hoping that Shadez themselves can tell the lackluster efforts from the good ones and will act accordingly.

Shadez :: Thee Impossible