It’s been a minute since Shade Sheist came across my desk or through my headphones. Somewhere in the stacks there’s a copy of Damizza’s “Where I Wanna Be” compilation. With Nate Dogg singing a chronic filled hook, Kurupt providing a cameo verse and a music video celebrating love of the West coast, Sheist had an undeniable hit with the title track in 2000. Not long afterward Sheist dropped his debut CD “Informal Introduction,” it charted briefly, and then Sheist disappeared off the national radar. There were allegations Sheist got an undue amount of airplay on Power 106 in L.A. due to financial ties between his label Baby Ree and KPWR owner Emmis Communications. I don’t know how the issue was ultimately resolved but I do know in the years after his debut I haven’t heard much of him on terrestrial OR satellite radio. Perhaps playing Sheist’s music became a hot potato issue that no radio programmer wanted to touch.
That’s a shame really, because whether or not there was something intentionally underhanded about his ascent on the West coast, Sheist himself was just as worthy of radio play as anybody else poppin’ at the time. Sheist’s soft-spoken mellow delivery is in some ways eerily reminiscent of Baby Bash, like they were twins separated at birth. His lyrics may not have won “Quotable of the Month” but they weren’t an embarrassment either, and his delivery and breath control were not lacking. I often wondered what happened to Sheist after the Power 106 debacle, and now I’ve come to find out he’s been quietly releasing albums on the PYO (Put Yourself Out) Entertainment throughout the second half of the aughts (the 2000’s). His newest release “Movin Units” landed on my desk and suddenly Shade Sheist was back in effect – a decade flashed by in a heartbeat.
It seems the babyfaced Sheist has a new partner in crime this time by the name of N.U.N.E. What do the letters stand for? Hell if I know. He’s pictured on the cover though, listed as the executive producer in the liner notes, and he also takes a production credit on almost every song but the latter is a little bit misleading. N.U.N.E. gets first billing on the songs but if you read all the way across and pay attention there’s always a second and possibly more crucial party who is involved: “Produced by N.U.N.E./music by Bionik … Produced by N.U.N.E./music by XL Middleton … Produced by N.U.N.E./music by R.L.” I think you get the idea. I think Sheist learned from the Power 106 fiasco that full disclosure is always for the best, so I’ll give him credit for putting in the actual MUSIC producers. Too much information is always better than nowhere near enough.
As for the music, Sheist is still the same mellow and laid back California rapper he was almost a decade ago. The singer on the hook for the lead single “Movin Like a Boss” is not really comparable to Nate Dogg, but he’s serviceable enough. At least N.U.N.E. makes a case for him being the big dog in the yard in the last verse: “I’m the artist, CEO, and producer/and I’m the nigga you need to get used ta.” Perhaps this album should have been titled “N.U.N.E. & Friends” instead, but Sheist is on the cover, the album is listed as part of Sheist’s discography online, and Sheist was the one who brought this CD to RapReviews’ attention. Confused? I sure am. Back to the music. The general feel throughout the album is a Warren G style Cali funk for the trunk, which makes it easy to enjoy the bounce and swing of tracks like “Baby We Can Do It” and “The West Coast.” The aggressive flag raised stylings of RedRum 781 are hard to miss on five tracks, and while they’re well paired with N.U.N.E. neither one seems ideally matched with Sheist, who doesn’t sound that angry even when he’s spitting curse words or calling out rivals.
The only cameo throughout the 16 tracks of “Movin Units” that those outside the Westside are likely to recognize is Domino of “Getto Jam” fame on the song “That’s Where We From.” Winning tracks include the Roger Troutman/Zapp funk of “Pimp,” the Nate Dogg throwback style of “These Hoes,” and the ultra-smoothed out “SUCPIYC,” a track where Sheist vows you’ll be playing this the song while you drive around in your ride. He’s not lying – I’m pretty sure I’ll put this one on a CD-R for cruising around. In fact there’s more than a fair share of cuts on “Movin Units” that I’d listen to more than once, but given I was expecting Sheist to be the star it’s a bit disappointing that lesser known names hog up the spotlight. He’s already splitting time and credit with N.U.N.E. so with no disrespect intended I really don’t care what Eddie Kane Jr., Tone Kelsey, Nitty Black or Shorty Bang have to say. I do think this CD is good enough to live up to it’s title and be “Movin Units” but if Shade Sheist was the full-fledged star of the project it might have moved more.
PS: After this review was first released, Shade Sheist sent me a note to let me know he’s been working with N.U.N.E. since “Informal Introduction” and that this release is intended more as a group project than a solo album. We appreciate the clarification and look forward to future projects from Shade Sheist.