88.1 WKNC’s Pick of the Week 3/23
By John O’Neal, WKNC DJ Buck Nasty
There’s a lot of hip-hop knocking on people’s doors nowadays, from little-known artists like Yelawolf to full blown show-stoppers like Nas. But nothing draws attention like having a lyricist who can wow you with his smooth flow while also injecting heartfelt emotions that leave you wanting more.
That person is Shawn Chrystopher, who hails from Inglewood, California. His latest album, You and Only You, is available free for download on www.youandonlyyou.com and features more hits than any album you would buy.
Shawn Chrystopher starts by using his real name as his rap label, which is surprising. He also sports no label, so he has the creative authority over all his own sounds.
It’s OK if you haven’t heard of him after three mixtapes, three albums and two singles. I first heard of him after watching The Reason’s music video on YouTube, which is a dry showcase of what hip-hop should be.
What you don’t expect is for his main song to be so raw. “You and Only You,” the first song on the album, is spoken word. It reminds you that rap is only poetry over a beat, which a lot of artists forget. He talks about the material wants his girlfriend wants, and how he wants to make it big in the business for his mother.
I give a quick listen to songs on little-known rapper’s albums, not because I don’t think they don’t have anything to say, but because the first 20 seconds make or break a song to me.
“Emergency Broadcast” will have you still listening for all one minute and two seconds of it, with your head bobbing. With the ripe trumpets and the melodic voice he presents, you wonder why rappers don’t stay this fresh.
Another song that had me pressing repeat was “The Hangover.” Many movies and songs have tried to embody this feeling, but Chrystopher captures it with ease. You can visualize the scene he is painting, and the beat’s feel complements the message very well.
The image that a rapper is living well is a message that’s put out too much. I thought Shawn Chyrstopher’s “Sold Out Shows” featuring Cameron Wallace was another song like this. But his verses embody what he actually feels and how he puts so much effort behind making it.
You may not love hip-hop for whatever reason, but Shawn Chyrstopher’s self-made sound is refreshing and worth the download, especially because it’s free. He’s at the South by Southwest festival right now without any label backing promoting his music, and I wish him the best for it.
88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published every Wednesday in the print edition of Technician, as well as online at technicianonline.com and wknc.org.