Shawn Chrystopher - The Audition

Posted March 24, 2010

Considering that most rappers lie more than Tiger Woods, there’s no more ironic phrase in...

The Audition Album Review

Considering that most rappers lie more than Tiger Woods, there’s no more ironic phrase in hip-hop than keeping it real. Let’s keep it real; not since the ‘80s hair metal era has a musical genre been built around more fantasy than the modern rap game. The numbers just don’t add up. If every rapper who said he killed a man actually did, 75 percent of this country would be dead. In order for every rapper who said he f**ked a Brazilian model to have actually done the deed, there’s have to be more models in Brazil than there are people in Brazil. And if every rapper who said he owned a private jet was actually flying the friendly skies, their collective G4 wings would block out the sun. Hip-hop is many things, but it is rarely honest.

With that in mind, you’d be hard pressed to find a rapper who keeps it more realerer real than Shawn Chrystopher. Case in point: In a recent DJBooth interview our very own DJ Z asked Chrys if he was nervous about his new project The Audition dropping, Chrys responded, “I am always nervous. Because with this music you put yourself out there, and you’re vulnerable.” I guarantee you most artists feel the exact same way, and I also guarantee you almost none of them will admit it. It’s this willingness to say what no one else will that’s earning the Inglewood native a burgeoning fan base, and makes The Audition such an enjoyable listen.

For example, how many other rappers would drop a lead single like Like a Kid Again? Sorry, that was a rhetorical question. While most producers would take a song called Like a Kid Again and add in an aggravating chorus of children, here Cameron Wallace gets the point across with some bouncing piano, a vibe Shawn picks up with on the microphone side with lyrics that quickly flip from the joy of new kicks to Family Matters punchlines. It might not make you feel like a kid, but it will make you feel good. That autobiographical streak stays alive on I'm Over You, an obviously Cudi-inspired song about a childhood love gone wrong, and Out of the Hood, a cut that gives us a crystal clear look inside Shawn’s (actual) life. Actually, The Audtion’s most honest moment comes on Def Jam, a music-less interlude featuring Shawn telling a story about his naïve younger self and a supposed deal he was going to sign with Def Jam (it didn’t work out). Now that’s some real talk.

You know this whole honesty thing I’ve built this entire review around? I may have made a mistake. A full listen to The Audition reveals a rapper who’s no stranger to absurd claims, particularly when it comes to his bank account. I thought we were done with tracks called I Get Money after 50 spawned 1,000 knockoffs in ’07, but sure enough I Get Money takes an oddly snap-music sounding detour into outrageous paper stacking-ocity. It’s a good cut, but a tired one. Similarly, Can’t Take That From Me is a middle finger to all the haters; perhaps haters like me who are tired of lines like, “hos do him cause he’s steppin out the showroom.” Now I’m not against shine rap, in fact the booming No Snitchin’ is one of my favorite tracks on The Audition, I just like his music better when we get to hear about Shawn Chystoper the man, not Shawn Chrsytopher the shopper.

So which one is the real Shawn Chrystopher? Maybe both. Maybe neither. Maybe, like Walt Whitman, he is large and contains multitudes. Maybe he’s both the mack we hear doing dime pieces on All Over You and the intensely driven rapper angry because he was left off XXL’s Freshman list. In fact, on Put Your Glasses Up he’s both a baller celebrating his “dumb money” one minute, and a man still hurt by an absent father the next. Of course, I can’t pretend to know who Shawn really is. All I know is what his music tells me. But I do know that when Chrystopher finally fully translates the realness he’s so obviously trying to convey into an album, we’ll be looking at one hell of an album. Until then, The Audition is just that. A prelude to the real thing. More of a promise of potential than a finished product.

DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins

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Posted March 24, 2010
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