Artist: ShyneTitle: Godfather Buried AliveRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Robert DeGracia
Shyne Po has been manifesting lasting warfare memories long before droning gavel knockings set the prelude to his conviction. Although 2009 dates his prison release, Godfather Buried Alive not only provides answers for today, but stirs echoes of gangster classics past. Shyne radiates a newer street persuasion in the mafia epic; he sweeps up all lingering street savagery and combines it in an untamed version of a Brooklyn Scarface.
Not to be confused, Godfather… isn’t gory as it is ruthless. Shyne callously rides into the sunset beginning with the Kanye West produced “More or Less,” a drugstore cowboy cinematic revue, injected with Western whistles that screams modern day Clint Eastwood. Shyne’s vigilant Wild West renegade arrives back at his locale, revisiting enemies that are soon to suffocate in his vengeance. As Foxy ignites a chorus behind Shyne’s walk in fire, his flow breeds volatility unbridled in tenacity and tirade, “G is a G, a key is a key, a snitch is a fish, with no fins, they cant swim and I dump ‘em in the river.” In another combo, “The Gang,” the two surprise by co-signing their own hot Brooklyn signatures to the ‘95 Raekwon-Nas classic “Verbal Intercourse”.
In fact, Godfather… is more about a by-product of Shyne’s tumultuous brainstorming activity behind bars. He successfully composes intelligently twisted prison rhymes that instantly jump right off the paper. While Shyne refers to “talking about the life that’s mine,” his lyrical ability is unleashed in “Godfather,” a devious New York City track driven by sinister strings and creaky violins. While some gangster rappers limp through illustrations of aggression and anger, Shyne expands to extended levels of mutilation and indecency, breathing wisps of vivid imagery into his own street story; “My minds poison, corrupted in disease, 360 keys, money make the world spin, I make your chest smoke, have your mother singing hymns, particles in your brains up on your timbs.”
Longtime producer extraordinaire BucWild lays out Bob Marley’s “No More Trouble” sample in “Quasi OG,” a munificent track that leans towards Shyne’s conscious side, revealing a recognition of hip-hop’s lack of a political eye. From capitalism to conspiracy theory, Shyne acknowledges the dark social spectrum that looms over the direction of Black-American youth and his prison brethren. Another notable is the dramatic “Diamonds and Mac 10s,” a Just Blaze produced track that is skillfully set in two tones: one of an emotive Shyne “dying and cryin’ inside,” pleading to God in redemptive calling for refuge and acceptance; the other is the opposite side of the prison wall healing worlds with exaltation, triumph and hope, discernible by big blasting trumpets and horns.
Not to his discredit, Shyne lays victim to a weaker side of production. “Shyne,” an otherwise pop track in chorus and verse, is left embarrassingly unblessed by Swiss Beatz’s humdrum claps, deadbeat bassline, and equally depressive weeping violin loop. “Jimmy Choo” is a similarly unsuccessful track that follows the same R&B formula as Shyne’s previous hit “Bonnie and Shyne,” but marginally lacks originality and the kick that even songstress Ashanti cannot save. Poorly laced with Murder Inc. dinky electronica disinherits any incidental chemistry between the two artists, thus making the track more suitable for a remix. “For the Record,” is a response to the 50 Cent threat recorded through DAT, but the result is minimal (i.e. Canibus vs. LL) and less controversial than once initially regarded.
However, as Godfather… commits to a deeper truth, Shyne’s catbird seat is high outside of Clinton Correctional Facility. He never shrouds his personal funeral hymns in anything but the darkest and most candid form of gangster-ism; appreciation of this amongst peers in the industry is widespread, but is soon met with the realization that that one of today’s best is behind bars.