Review Summary: An amazing follow-up to an amazing debut. Proof that Hip-Hop is still alive.
Shad is by far one of the most talented rappers in music today. He originally put this idea into our heads with his self-produced debut When This Is Over and solidifies this as truth with The Old Prince. This album is truly a masterpiece and should be listened to by anyone and everyone who appreciates well-made beats with intricate and meaningfully lyrics over them. The only thing preventing me from giving this album a 5 is its lack of smooth transition between songs, but we'll touch on that later.
Shad proved to the world that you don't need the backing of a powerful label to produce quality music with his debut album but TOP shows us that it certainly doesn't hurt anything. There is not a single track on this album that doesn't deserve to be listened to a thousand times. Shad covers all sorts of subjects on this album all the way from growing up feeling out of place as a minority to living at home still and trying to save money and he even touches on his love life a little. He gives us beautifully crafted rhymes across the entire spectrum from mind-blowing in Exile (starting at 0:58 into the song) to down right hilarious in The Old Prince Still Lives at home.
The power of Shad's lyrics are only increased by the beats in each song. Combining traditional beats with live instruments (Shad himself can play the guitar) to create a fresh sound that is easier to listen to than almost any other rap album I've ever heard.
As far what I said at the top of this review about the transitions between songs, it is not something that truly takes away from the album. Shad put himself in a somewhat awkward situation when he decided to write songs covering so many issues and emotions. It is difficult to choose track placement when one song talks about how broke you are and induces laughter in the listener and the next touches on social issues and problems with our society. This is no reason to not listen to this album, it just means you should know going in that you are going to bounce around a little beat which is still easy to follow given the quality of each track.
This is an album that will keep true Hip-Hop alive for hopefully a long time more. Shad is a rapper who isn't afraid of poking fun at himself on track one while taking track two as an opportunity to critique the world we live in on a profound scale. Shad has definitely earned a place among the most talented rappers around such as Mos Def, Common and others who know how to use their lyrical talents to try and make a difference. Listen to this album at least once. You more than deserve at least that. End.