Showtime Shegz digs right into contemporary turmoil and seeks to inspire and motivate with this album release, drawing you in from afar with some of the most intriguing artwork to emerge in recent years, and quickly sealing the deal with an opening track that directly and unabashedly addresses his desired audience in an open, honest way.
Important Poem is exactly what its title promises, and Shegz delivers with natural confidence and heart. In light of the rise of knife crime in the UK in recent years, certain points really hit hard, and at the same time – the artist’s sense of optimism, his inherent desire to make a positive difference among the youths, shines brightly again and again. Though the hard truth runs free on this project, hope and potential alternatives stand a little taller for the most part, making this an unmissable and fairly unmistakable new album that ticks a whole lot of boxes more commonly left untouched.
Showtime Shegz has a certain tone and vocal style that’s easy to acclimatize to and recognise. The monologue that introduces the album lays this out plainly, and as Furi! kicks in, that voice becomes a comforting thread amidst an otherwise chaotic and creatively experimental, industrial soundscape.
Imperfect Art (Ist) turns out to be the perfect name for this project. Shegz has compiled a whopping nineteen original tracks, and original is a crucial word – there’s very little else that kicks in quite the way this does; conceptually and artistically.
Everything Good is an early anthem, creatively free and spacious yet again, but rhythmic enough to build a sense of togetherness in the room. Simplicity of production continues amidst unique instrumental layers and decidedly original beats. The album often feels like a poetry slam session, carefully crafted on top of a series of mildly tribal, minimalist musical performances. There’s always a strong beat to connect with, but occasionally in contrast you get moments like Matrix – quiet instances of pure vocal outpouring; whispers and melodies.
KO stands out for its louder confidence and that anthem-like rhythm and energy once again. Shegz takes full advantage of the opportunity to perform and enjoy himself, and it shows well. As the album goes on, there are a fair few instances of fun, juxtaposed cleverly with those that are notably more thoughtful and deep. Certain moments are quiet enough to draw attention for their apparent desire to remain a secret, others reach out from afar with colour and volume; Night School does a little of both, but stands out for its melodic aspects overall.
There’s something about the way the project plays out that gives it more of a return-visit vibe than that of a single sitting playlist. There’s an intensity to many of the ideas, not just the lyrics but the emotions, the artistry, the pondering. Moments like A Drowning Man’s Warning (Ripples) whisper out to you with mystery and intrigue. You’re reminded of the considerate artist behind all of this. And in stark contrast again, energy returns later on – loudness, character, certainty, swagger. Shegz leaves nothing unsaid, and that makes the experience a heavy yet worthy one. It’s also easy to visualize a live performance, the minimalism would work well organically, and your focus would rightfully be on the vocalist.
While there are definite threads throughout much of this music – Shegz has a style that’s his, and it’s easy to pin-point in most cases – there are also plenty of unpredictable sudden turns. Pagan is a bold example, distorted and angst-driven, fast-paced, which leads effectively into the prayer-like melodic desperation of Spiralling. In every case, expect poetry and poignancy, creative freedom, and plenty of all that seems reflective of deeper ideas.
Dear Group Chat ends the project with a slightly more literal take on modern life and the struggles of every day existence. Another side to the artist emerges, and it works well to end the show on a high. Showtime Shegz is doing his own thing entirely, and for all of these reasons and more – Imperfect Art (Ist) is a brilliantly refreshing album that’s all at once distant from the mainstream and desperate to connect.
Download the album via iTunes.