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Thread: Shogunna x Anthai - 'Iron Monkey' (June 23, 2017 - Thrice Great Records)

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    #halmustgo Hal Incandenza's Avatar
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    Default Shogunna x Anthai - 'Iron Monkey' (June 23, 2017 - Thrice Great Records)

    1 I Am Back
    2 Crime
    3 One Man Army
    4 Beautiful Mind
    5 Dope O.G.
    6 Outsiders
    7 Digital
    8 Blunts
    9 Clouds
    10 50/50
    11 Coffee And Cigarettes
    12 Zombie


    1st SINGLE

    2nd SINGLE

    the artists on FB


    Last edited by Hal Incandenza; 06-29-2017 at 08:26 AM.

  2. #2
    #halmustgo Hal Incandenza's Avatar
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    Last time I heard from Shogunna was on the single 'Cross The Galaxies', produced by Anthai Da Protagonist (from the westcoast group 71Raw that has worked with Black Knights, Northstar etc) for the latter's beautiful 2015 EP 'The Prince' that celebrated the birth of Anthai's son.

    https://71raw.bandcamp.com/album/the-prince (EP, both digital & physical)

    And only last week Shogunna & Anthai dropped the free DL track 'Call Your Name Out', which is dedicated to Prodigy (RIP)

    https://71raw.bandcamp.com/track/sho...prod-by-anthai (DL here)

    In other words Shogunna & Anthai have some shared history.

    While Anthai has been steadily putting out albums over the last few years (Christ Bearer's 'Jesus Christ Bearer Superstar' album + its instrumentals, the instrumental albums 'Mentals I' and 'Mentals II', his own album 'Beats Behind Bars', Californian rap outfit Parallel's album 'No More Secrets' and Prosperus 1's album 'The 9th Dynasty' among others) Shogunna's been relatively silent as of late. Shogunna - to my knowledge - first popped up on the rap scene as a member of Shadow Clan. Way back in 2008 they dropped 'Shadow Clan Productions Volume 1 : Aim For The Crown' on Chambermusik.

    https://www.discogs.com/sell/item/461954386 (tracklist for Shadow Clan's album)

    Since then members Jus-P and G.S. Advance have dropped various solo projects. both have worked with relatively high profiles Killa Beez like Prodigal Sunn & Hell Razah. And then there's member FiveStarr, who might or might not be the same rapper as 5 Star on Almighty's debut album 'Original S.I.N.'. As I haven't heard the 'Shadow Clan Productions Volume 1' album yet, there's no way for me to tell at the moment.

    But the point I'm trying to make is that, while Shogunna released a steady stream of songs (plenty of them can be found on YouTube), no full projects were ever presented to the listening audience.

    Here's an example of an early track (this one dates back to 2008) :

    This all changed last year when Shogunna started the site www.shogunna.com. In May 2017 he dropped the project 'The Daily Dose', which you can stream on various official streaming services. You can also order it on USB, with an added documentary, which was very well put together.

    http://shogunna.com/wordpress1/2017/...ted-time-only/ (more info on the USB)

    'The Daily Dose' was more of a reintroduction of who Shogunna was since quite some time had passed. While 'The Daily Dose' album was more of a promotional album his latest release, 'Iron Monkey', with beats by Anthai, can be considered an album in the fullest sense.

    It is this album I will now review. As you know I am not a native English speaker so I will focus more on themes, flows and beats than on the actual lyrics.

    Here's some promo art for the album. Who knows, it might have been the original album cover.

    1. I am back

    Over some metal sounding guitars and occasional embellishments Shogunna announces his return, sounding very confident. Good thing there's no intro skit to the album, those are always useless anyway, this declaration of independence will do just fine instead! Anthai gets shout outs, and rightly so, because the album is very much a collaborative effort. I can sense Anthai's beats brought out the best in Shogunna. He sounds hungry on here and his lyrics are on point.

    2. Crime

    'Welcome to the crime scene
    You ain't seen what I seen
    I see you in the ICU'

    A bleek topic is discussed here over what I can only describe as a 70s sounding horror soundtrack - and that's a good thing.

    3. 1 man army (1st SINGLE)

    What's not to like about this track? Those ODB snippets in there are just the icing on the cake as this track is that good.

    'You can bring a squad I'm a 1 man army'

    Some ill lyrics on here, you can peep the video in the OP so I won't describe this track in further detail. The flute like sounds (sorry, not really a certified album reviewer here haha) are all kinds of ill and give this track that added flair.

    Anthai has worked with famous rap line snippets before (Raekwon, Method Man, Jay-Z on Christ Bearer's 'Jesus Christ Bearer Superstar' and the 'Beats Behind Bars' album for example), and always to great effect. This song, while clearly a Shogunna showcase, also functions well as a touching tribute to Ol' Dirty Bastard.

    4. Beautiful mind

    Shogunna discusses the mind and gets deep on this track describing thought processes.

    'A mind is a terrible thing to waste
    But the mind is a beauty in its form and grace
    Gone with the winds
    Cuz the gods are from within
    touch stars with the scars from our sins'

    Some gems in the verses as well. Another great Anthai beat on here. I'm especially fond of the horns that are put to use during the chorus.

    5. Dope OG

    High energy track! The energy is mostly conveyed through the way Shogunna uses his voice on this track. He sounds very live on this one, his voice has a gritty edge here that I did not notice on the other tracks. It fits the song well.

    The chorus will definitely get you hype...

    'Go Pro on my third eye
    See what I see
    turn this bitch up all night

    Get money and feel that
    Dope OG'

    The beat has a bit of a techno (edm) feel to it that works well with the lyrics.

    6. Outsiders

    The notorious 'Balls & my word' Scarface movie dialogue snippet sets the mood here as it introduces this pensive track. The melancholy bassline really carries this track as the self proclaimed 'fly ninja' Shogunna brings some nice similes to the table. I'm a sucker for the soulful vocal sample buried in the mix. The way the beat falls away towards the end of the song as the bars continue is a nice touch.

    7. Digital

    If you've read any of my reviews on here over the last few years you KNOW I'm a sucker for female vocal snippets. Anthai delivers the goods here with a simple but addictive 'huh' as uttered by what sounds like a very seductive woman lol. Shogunna asks us to 'upgrade our minds in these digital times'.

    8. Blunts

    'Flyer than hydro planes ...'

    This beat is smooth like butter. Truly a thing of beauty. It's not G funk, but it DOES remind me of some 93-94 sunny Cali synths. It might just be my favorite soundscape on the album. Shogunna waxes poetic about being high and honestly the way he puts it he could make your grandmoms start lighting up haha. Shogunna flows nimbly over the track, switching up his flow from time to time, includes some nice fast rapping. Gunna really shows his technical skills on this one.

    I got this song on repeat lol.

    9. Clouds

    We get some lovely melancholy guitar sounds on this track, where Shogunna is flying above the clouds. He aint ever coming down, so those Blunts might have something to do with that. Gunna goes universal on this one : he's running laps around the moon and smashing hookers from a different planet.

    'You're stuck on Cloud Nine, I'm in deep space.'

    Yep, we can't reach his high.

    Nice reference to Galactus the Planet Eater in there btw.

    10. 50/50

    After two relaxing tracks this is more of an uptempo effort. Shogunna is' an old sinner but young at heart' who's got money on his mind. He's in beastmode on here. References include Liz Taylor, The Sopranos and ... Asian sluts haha. Feeling this track!

    11. Coffee and cigarettes (2nd SINGLE)

    The video for this one (see OP) is hilarious. You can tell they had a lot of fun taping it. Just like '50/50' this is a playful high octane effort with nice piano keys. The chorus is very catchy and can be considered Shogunna's theme song as he seems to reintroduce himself to the people here. I can definitely understand why this song was released as a single.

    12. Zombie

    In a short spoken word intro Shogunna asks us to take a stand. 'We're all slaves in this modern day minimal wage.' The titular zombies are of course the people themselves, as you might have guessed already. This is a somber conscious track where society's ills are pointed out over a fittingly eerie backdrop. This is a good way to end the album as this theme is a bit different from most of the topics discussed on the album. So putting 'Zombie' at the end does not disrupt the flow of the album. On the contrary, it leaves you with something to ponder when you've finished listening to the album.


    * Very enjoyable album. The beats are top notch and - for comparison's sake - are on par with what you would find on a typical post 'War Poetry' Warface/Napalm release. Shogunna's lyrics are tight.

    * Beatwise my favorite tracks after about a dozen full album listens are '1 man army', 'Beautiful Mind', 'Outsiders', ''Digital', Blunts' and 'Clouds'. Anthai's productions are diverse so him being on all the tracks does not hinder the project at all.

    * When it comes to lyrics my fav songs are the deeper cuts 'Beautiful Mind' and 'Zombie', the spaced out vibes of 'Blunts' and 'Clouds' and the playfulness of 'Coffee and cigarettes'

    * Top 5 : the songs I like best overall are

    1. Blunts
    2. Clouds
    3. 1 man army
    4. Digital
    5. Beautiful mind
    Last edited by Hal Incandenza; 06-30-2017 at 12:06 AM.

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