Shoda Ish - FoxP2 (Review)

Shoda Ish - FoxP2

"FoxP2" is the first full length album from Japanese/Australian hip-hop group Shoda Ish, which consists of emcee/producers Tats and MC Lava as well as DJ Iron Edih. The album features guest appearances from Cise Star, One Be Lo, Raashan Ahmad and others as well as production by Count Sierackula, Marcus D, Subdue and others, but mostly all production is handled by Shoda Ish themselves. It is set to be released sometime in October of 2013.

1) 3rd Eye - The first song on the album has a beautiful piano loop layered over energetic boom-bap drums that should get your head nodding right out the gate. The pianos remind me of something off of the "Chrono Trigger" soundtrack, which is always a good thing since it's one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. Tats comes through and kicks two verses about keeping that real hip-hop sound alive while MC Lava closes out the track. Dope shit. Very nice way to start the album.

2) Jevne (Move Forward) (featuring Newclear) - The instrumental on this song has a softly strummed guitar over energetic drums and a hard snare. The beat is dope and all three emcees rip it, rapping about never stagnating and always trying to advance themselves as well as hip-hop culture. Very nice.

3) 5 Senses - The beat on this track, courtesy of Count Sierackula, has a soothing piano loop and some ill scratching by Iron Edih between the verses. About halfway through the song the beat changes up to incorporate some darker synth elements which give it a whole new feel. Tats and MC Lava both sounds really good on here and flow effortlessly over the instrumentals. You can tell these guys have a strong love for hip-hop, which is dope. Another banger.

4) Spoken Words - Shoda Ish return on the production tip with another head-nodding instrumental with a sprinkle of soft pianos over boom-bap drums. The beat is dope and Iron Edih adds to its richness as he chops up Wu-Tang Clan's "Semi Automatic: Full Rap Metal Jacket" on the chorus. Tats kicks off the first verse and raps about how commercial rap and the radio ain't shit while MC Lava follows up with the second verse. Very nice.

5) Numero Cinco (Interlude) - This is just a quick instrumental interlude, but it's dope.

6) International (featuring EverGreen) - This song features verses from Shoda Ish as well as verses from Osaka, Japan emcees MC Poco and DonalDeep (who together form the group EverGreen). The beat is real laid-back, with a mellow backing sample and low-key horns. Lyrically this song is a bit harder for me to follow since the lyrics are rapped in a mix of Japanese and English. Despite that, their flows are dope and the fact that I can't understand all of the lyrics doesn't detract much from the smooth feel of the song. Nice.

7) Shooting Star (featuring Raashan Ahmad) - Shoda Ish team up with Mission/Crown City Rockers emcee Raashan Ahmad over another mellow instrumental with soft piano keys and blaring horns in the background. The beat is ill and all three emcees are on point, spitting rhymes about their come up and about never dreaming that they would have made it this far in the rap industry. Dope.

8) Follow Me (featuring Lily B) - The beat on this track, courtesy of Subdue, has a bluesy guitar loop, subdued organs and bright pianos over boom-bap drums. The beat has a real airy feel to it and both Tats and MC Lava rip it while Lily B provides a soulful chorus. I'm really feelin' this track. Very nice.

9) Complacency (featuring Cise Star) - Marcus D comes through with a head-nodding jazzy horn instrumental for Shoda Ish and CYNE emcee Cise Star to rhyme over. I've always been a big fan of CYNE's work, so it's really nice to hear Cise Star's smooth flow glide effortlessly over this instrumental. Nice.

10) Sanctuary (Interlude) - This is another atmospheric instrumental that has a real carefree, airy feel to it. Very, very dope. I'm really feelin' this one.

11) The Passing (featuring Cise Star) - Cise Star returns, this time over a Shoda Ish instrumental that has dreamy pianos and soft strings over boom-bap drums. The beat is banging and everyone comes correct, kicking some introspective bars about time slipping away as you get older and about trying to put the feelings experienced during their time here into their rhymes. This shit is fire.

12) The Essence (featuring One Be Lo) - The beat on this track has a textured backing sample layered over head-nodding drums that is the perfect backdrop for Tats, MC Lava and Binary Star emcee One Be Low to do their thing over. Lyrically they all are on point, as expected, and rap about the essence of hip-hop and about sampling records, among other things. I'm really feelin' the scratching at the end by DJ Iron Edih as well.

13) Nujabes Tribute - Now this is dope. This song is a tribute to Japanese hip-hop producer (and one of my favorite producers of all time), Nujabes, who passed away back in 2010. The beat is absolutely beautiful, with some breezy pianos and guitars over soft drums that give it a nostalgic feel. Tats goes solo over the instrumental and incorporates many of Nujabes song titles in his rhymes. This shit is fire and is easily one of my favorite songs on the album.

14) Rest in Beats (Interlude) - And this might be my favorite instrumental on the album, just edging past "Sanctuary" as far as the interludes go. The beat is heavenly, consisting of a soft guitar loop with what sounds like some ambient flutes in the background. Very, very dope.

15) Cate au Lait - Now this is a little different. The instrumental on this song is very upbeat, with a nice live guitar riff and some ill scratching by DJ Iron Edih. MC Lava goes solo over it and spits a quick story about a girl that he is feeling. Very nice. Too bad its so short.

16) Dreaming - This track has a peaceful instrumental with some light horns and soft drums that give it a real carefree feel while DJ Iron Edih chops up one of my favorite Biggie songs, "Machine Gun Funk", on the chorus. The beat is banging and both emcees rip it, spitting some uplifting rhymes about trying to focus on the positives of life while not letting the negatives hold you down. Very ill.

17) Time is Now - Shoda Ish share production duties on this song with Mori-J and the result is quite ill. The beat in energetic, with some soaring string samples, wavy synths and more crazy scratching by DJ Iron Edih. Once again, both emcees come through and spit some inspirational rhymes about taking advantage of the here and now and about not letting life pass them by. Dope.

18) FoxP2 - The final song on the album has another atmospheric instrumental, this time by TokiMonsta, that slowly builds up over the course of the first verse and doesn't really kick in fully until about a minute into the song. The beat is dope and both emcees rip it, kicking rhymes that incorporate the FOXP2 gene (which is essential for speech and language development in humans) into their lyrics. The concept is ill and acts as a great way to close out the album.

I'm going to rate the album

4.25 / 5

because its very dope. The beats are really ill throughout, with many of them have a clear Nujabes / Uyama Hiroto influence to them. I've always been a huge fan of this type of music, so I'm really feelin' the instrumentals on here. Lyrically, Tats and MC Lava are also on point for every track and showcase some clever wordplay and witty concepts in their rhymes. And lets not forget about DJ Iron Edih who adds extra depth to every song he is featured on, very similar to what Kid Koala did on the classic "Deltron 3030" album. Combine all those elements and you have a really great album. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more from Shoda Ish in the future. Pick up the album when it drops on later next month.


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