With an unrelenting flow, big bold sounds, and serious themes, The Prequel is Shneal’s latest album filled with powerful beats and the clear intention to ‘bring it’.
Opening with ‘Universal’, there’s a darkness to the beginning stages of the album, musing on questions of life and moral choices. It’s grand sounding and engaging the whole way through.
‘Pride Of A Lion’ turns things up a little, with a backing track that is deep, dark, and at points euphoric. J Cutlass’ guest appearance storms in at the mid point of the track, delivering a blistering performance that is at points breathtaking.
‘Being Alice’ opens with a sweet sounding music box, before some darker synth swells join the mix. Once Shneal’s vocal comes in, he’s up front and centre, unavoidable and demanding of close attention. There’s also a sense of fun, using the white rabbit’s lines on the chorus, “I’m late for a very important date.” There’s something enticing about using such familiar words and reworking them into a new piece of art.
‘Safe Investment’ continues with the grand, epic sense of scale, putting the sprawling synths to good use and providing a strong backdrop for Shneal’s confident, relentless flow. There are points where it doesn’t work quite so well, particularly when the synthy pan-pipes come in and detract a little from the serious tone. Shneal’s use of guest vocals helps to give a sense of range and variety of style; Drama AKA Treason appears on ‘The Remedy’ and ‘Konspiracy’ and gives a suitable difference to create intrigue and interest, while Cryptic Wisdom’s appearance on ‘Automatic’ is snappy and fun, but not without a sense of menace.
There’s plenty to get lost in with Shneal’s The Prequel, so dive in and enjoy this imaginative set of hip-hop tunes.
By Chris Marsh