Shawn Jackson's Golden Age Hollywood shuffle
Robert Townsend's "Hollywood Shuffle" depicted a Los Angeles overrun by minimum-wage jobs and condescending racial stereotypes. Twenty-three years later, Shawn Jackson's latest mix tape reappropriates the title to express the difficulties of hustling in the city filled with sun, smog, and tens of thousands of rap aspirants.
But as he asserts on the "L.A.'s Best" remix, Jackson is one of the city's finest rappers, which he continually proves on the breezy 30-minute tape. After returning to his hometown from a lengthy sojourn in Rhode Island, Jackson earned major blog buzz with a pair of albums released in 2008. But the Tres Records-signed rapper has laid low of late while plotting a flurry of activity in the coming months -- with "Hollywood Shuffle Side B" slated for release next month, and his official retail album, "Brand New Old Me," coming out at the end of July.
Like many of his Tres peers, Jackson favors a Golden Age-influenced sound: analog hiss, scratches, and underground braggadocio. Yet he updates the sonic template by enlisting next-generation local beat-makers Exile and Dibia$e, as well as Detroit legend DJ House Shoes, who give him a simultaneously soulful and futuristic soundtrack to bob and weave on the Cali streets. On mix-tape opener "Lord You Know," Jackson primes you for what to expect, describing himself as a "Chuck T, khaki pants, swap meet, Crenshaw," kind of guy. The mix tape may prove that there's nothing new under the sun, but Jackson's laid-back but well-constructed songs are inherently ideal for Hollywood's strong light, palm tree glide and subtle menace.
-- Jeff Weiss
Download: (Via 2 Dope Boyz)