Shot Clock – Rashad X Puma (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The great thing about being in what I refer to as the “post-genre” world is that it encourages people to be truly experimental. Go back a generation or two, to a time when music still displayed its tribal qualities, and this was not the case. Genres were boxes into which music had to fit, strict rules were enforced regarding sound and style, even what the followers and sonic minions wore seemed to be the subject of rigid rules. Anyone who dared to fuse genres or worse still, create new ones, was seen as either a genius, or more usually a traitor. Thankfully those days have gone.

A whole wave of music makers have come through either not knowing what the rules were regarding song crafting, or more probably not caring. The result is a world where the old genres are warped into odd shapes, woven, spliced, blended or abandoned altogether. Where artists are free to take inspiration from who and where ever they like. We have created a world where, musically speaking at least, anything goes. The wonderfully named Rashid X Puma is the product of just such a world.

Shot Clock is the natural evolution of old school rap, and old school rap has come a long way from those early days on the corners of South Bronx streets. Rashad X Puma wraps his rap in skittering trap beats, shimmering electronica and a use of space which many artists fail to grasp. Music lands most effectively when it has space to land in and knowing this Puma uses space as an instrument in its own right, a sort of negative sonic instrument that empowers the music rather than hinders it.

And if you think that such music works best when it is employing maximum energy and groove, think again. Shot Clock is all about swagger and attitude, it is about the art of being cool, if the phrase less is more wasn’t such a cliche I would be using it at this point. Opps, too late, but sometimes cliches do make the perfect point. He still employs that perfect pace, flow and lyrical rhythm that has always been at the heart of such urban music endeavours, the tale of the underdog winning through and proving people wrong. But rather than falling into the trap of using flash and self-aggrandisement like many of his fellow music-makers, again it is the understatement and precise choice of words that seems to make the track even more poignant, even more memorable.

Why be obvious when you can be clever? Why follow the rules when you can write your own? Why look to the past when you can help define the future? Why listen to the same old, same old, when you can listen to Rashad X Puma? Why indeed?

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