Welcome to the weird, wild world of No Shade. Judged purely on the merits of their self-titled EP, the rap duo seems overwhelmingly average. These seven songs offer competent lyricists spitting standard fare about haters, sex and Cristal over good-not-great beats.
Welcome to the weird, wild world of No Shade.
Judged purely on the merits of their self-titled EP, the rap duo seems overwhelmingly average. These seven songs offer competent lyricists spitting standard fare about haters, sex and Cristal over good-not-great beats.
That's a shame, because on stage No Shade is supremely unique: two spry, flamboyant rappers performing choreographed hip-hop dance moves without missing a lyric.
I saw the group at a local rap competition earlier this year, and while my fellow judges and I ended up awarding the title "Best Rapper Alive" to another performer, nobody left a bigger impression than No Shade.
In a flurry of lanky limbs and bouncing braids, Donovan Flowers and Jo'el Donte McClendon flipped, kicked and split their way through a performance unlike any I've seen. I don't love their shtick, but I also can't help but be impressed by their unparalleled enthusiasm and their ability to do what so many pop stars can't pull off: bust a move without resorting to lip-synching.
The duo met at Ohio State in 2006. McClendon, a cheerleader, and Flowers, the coach of a competitive hip-hop team, were a natural match, and they quickly struck up a shared creative vision. Their album captures that vision in part, but it's insufficient. Until they release a DVD, the best way to experience No Shade's spectacle is in person.
Your next chance is Saturday, when they'll be competing in another hip-hop talent contest called So You Think You Can Rap at Skully's alongside Keith Murray and what I assume will be a lot of whack MCs.
Meanwhile, The Beatdowns' record release show will unfold at Carabar.
The local beat combo features Mark and Matt Wyatt, who have been known to bang out obscure and beloved covers in Columbus Power Squadron and who used to be in iconic '80s band the Great Plains - one of the 100 best bands you've never heard of, if you believe the latest issue of Spin.
The Beatdowns is a sort of middle ground between those projects, with remnants of the Wyatts' childhood favorite rock and soul tracks and a hint of the Great Plains' neurotic new wave in the mix on "Away From the Crowd" and "Disconnected Girl."
But the longest shadow cast over these bangers is that of Joey Ramone, who would surely be proud to have inspired such nourishing nuggets as these.
For more local music news and reviews, click to the Sensory Overload blog