An album that says nothing new, but is full to the brim with beats...

It’s now the case that you enjoy hip-hop albums not because of the lyrics, but in spite of the lyrics. It’s all about the beats nowadays, and as long as the rapper has a good enough flow and a palatable style, they can say any old shit. This is all too apparent on Shyne’s eponymously titled debut album. An album that says nothing new, but is full to the brim with beats.

Of course, Shyne’s fame precedes him, as he was with Puffy and Jennifer when they got stopped by the police last Christmas after a shooting at a nightclub. He’s also Puffy’s new meal ticket, having made guest appearances on the ‘PE 2000’ remix, Total’s ‘Sitting Home’ and 112’s ‘Anywhere’, among other tracks. So you know the notoriety will help him shift units. But it is a little disconcerting when you get an album that is so innovative musically but layered with cliched rhymes. With production coming from the likes of EZ Elpee, Mario ‘Yellow Man’ Winans and Nashiem Myrick, among others, ‘Shyne’ features some of the most original beats laced on a hip-hop album this year.

There’s the excellent combos with dancehall legend Barrington Levy on ‘Bad Boyz’ (a massive hit in the States) and ‘Bonnie & Shyne’; the use of Whodini’s ‘Magic’s Wand’ break on ‘It’s OK’ and The DOC’s ‘Is It Funky Enough’ on ‘That’s Gangsta’, as well as the Wu-esque ‘Commission’. Indeed, while we’ve become accustomed to R&B/hip-hop-laden albums from the Bad Boy camp, this is a refreshing change from the norm. And Shyne’s uptight, slightly nasal vocal style is arresting enough to keep it interesting. That’s if you can ignore the thugged-out, drug-laden lyrics.

Derek A Bardowell