Shad – ‘Flying Colours’

Review by Tim Martin

Sometimes listening to Shad I feel like I’m floating. Or maybe he’s floating. Remember watching ninjas in slow motion movie sequences? Yeah, like that. On Flying Colours the listener is instantly given a soundscape that builds like a slow motion explosion, or like a fight scene from Crouching Tiger. Shad reflects on his influences, and a wonderful breadth of rap iconography greets some serious production kung fu. Kicks a-blazing, colours a-flying, and lyrics, well it is Shad we’re talking about here.

And although my word processor wants to correct “colour,” I’ll gladly leave that red line hanging below the word. That’s two albums in a row with so-called typos. Shad has graduated from TSOL, and he’s definitely not lost. The lyrics are endless, and now there is double-time, along with new tweaks and inflections that younger rappers are always attempting to emulate. And while imitation is flattery, so is collaboration. To have K-OS actively involve himself in your work is, well, a joyful thing.

There is a deeper maturity in the sound and the self-analysis, and Shadrach has further expanded a repertoire of cultural critique, spiritual rootedness, and the desire to remember. He’s shrugged off some of the playfulness in the Melancholy and Spring-Up EP’s, and used the full length to create something with some serious staying power. Songs like “Progress,” “Remember to Remember,” and “Love Means” force us to listen to a message that resonates back into shared memory, and forward into an uncertain future. For this “black modest mouse,”* the holster has grown. A Hidden Dragon of hip-hop; it’s an album to come back to. Float on, Shad. Float on.

*Reference from “Melancholy and the infinite Shadness” EP