I had to practice typing “sheisty” the wrong way just to review Pooh Shiesty’s debut album “Shiesty Season,” but there may not be a RIGHT way to spell the word. You certainly won’t find it in a Merriam-Webster dictionary, but you will find it at Urban Dictionary with the spelling and meaning I’ve always understood. “Sheisty” means someone who is both shifty and sneaky at the same time. On “Ugly” his labelmate (and label owner) Gucci Mane defines it well: “People say I’m sheisty just like Pooh, they scared to trust me.” Baldhead rap group Onyx unintentionally gave a similar definition on their song “Shiftee” as “low down, dirty and grimy.” Either one fits.
So where did hip-hop’s newest self-proclaimed lowlife come from? Lontrell Denell Williams Jr. is Memphis born and raised, although he spent two years in Texas as a teenager before moving back to his home turf. I don’t think that time changed him much — he’s got the Memphis drawl and the nihilistic “living for today” attitude down pat. On his lead single “Back in Blood” Chicago drill rapper Lil Durk joins him in flowing to a subdued and menacing YC piano beat. Durk vows Pooh is Shiesty but he’s “REALLY sheisty” and his is the more energetic flow of the two, while Pooh prefers to just bash you right in the ears with a no nonsense delivery.
“I’m a real gangster, this some shit you can’t rehearse” brags Shiesty on “Neighbors” featuring BIG30. He undoubtedly proved that with his arrest in 2020, though he might have even more charges on a sealed juvenile record we don’t know about. I don’t think anybody said Shiesty had to prove it though, and for his sake as an up-and-coming artist, I hope he won’t keep trying to. I also hope he’ll drop having to say “BRRRR” like Gucci Mane repeatedly. That might be a requirement for signing with his imprint for all I know, but Gucci should want to make stars and not clones of himself. Case in point — Pooh Shiesty might have a Tay Keith produced song called “Master P” but he’s not rapping LIKE Master P nor saying he’s “bout it bout it” repeatedly on the track.
The undeniable positive of “Shiesty Season” is that Pooh is not another rapper with pitch-corrected vocals singing his way through one song after another. His baritone Memphis drawl has a crispy lisp and slur that makes those vocals more intriguing, even if they occasionally make him a little difficult to understand. If there’s one negative though it’s that the same “no nonsense delivery” I previously mentioned can lose its freshness when drawn out over the length of 49 minutes. Guest stars like 21 Savage on “Box of Churches” were undoubtedly chosen for their name recognition, but the change in delivery and breath control they provide is hella necessary.
If Pooh Shiesty can drop the “BRRR” and add a little more charisma to his presentation, I think 1017 Records has a star in the making. Songs like the TP808 and Seeley produced “Gone MIA” or “See Red” show the potential, providing some of the most interesting instrumentals Pooh raps over here. Other tracks like “Making a Mess” have unintentionally apt titles. Guest star Veeze sounds Drakeo the Ruler and not in a good way, and even with three different producers credited the only good thing they did was the bass. Monotonous uninteresting tracks like “Choppa Way” don’t give Pooh any inspiration to rise to new heights… so he doesn’t. Right now Pooh Shiesty’s potential remains untapped, and while “Shiesty Season” shows promise at times, there’s much more work to be done.