- Mamadou Tall
Wickipedia: A Sample Showcase
If you are familiar with Shawny Binladen then you know that he proclaims himself the "King of Samples." Among rappers in New York City, it's safe to say that Shawny Binladen raps on the most flips of throwbacks. His whispery style of rapping and use of classic samples is what he has been known for up until this point.
On his latest project, the rapper from Queens picked up right where he left off with his previous 3 projects: Merry Wickmas, Merry Wickmas Deluxe, and Waiting On Wick.
If you never got into Shawny Binladen's music, his recent project Wickipedia is the perfect place to start if you ask me. The 17 tracks on this project make for a relatively quick and easy listen.
The first track off of Wickipedia is "Sean Bell." This first song immediately serves as a subtle introduction to who Shawny Binladen is and where he's from. The title "Sean Bell" serves as a tribute to Sean Bell who was murdered by police on November 25, 2006. The murder happened in Shawny's home borough of Queens and was another instance of police brutality that the inner cities had become accustomed to.
The stand-out line in this song came 30 seconds in when Shawny said, "It's still fuck 12, cuz they killed Sean Bell, and my name ringing bells in and out of them cells." The bar doesn't come with any crazy wordplay but you get the message. Shawny saying those words is a reminder of clashing relationships between police and civilians in cities across the nation.
"It's still fuck 12, cuz they killed Sean bell..."
The rest of the track is Shawny venting and bragging over the horns of the trumpet stirred in with a drill beat. He talks about losing his friends and blaming himself. He speaks about taking drugs to help himself deal with the blame that he throws on himself.
"Lost my bouzin I was sitting in a cell, pop a perky cuz a nigga blame himself, slow down on the wock he gotta watch my health; and my mode on stealth..."
With few double entendres or metaphors, Shawny Binladen says a lot on this first track without taking too much of the listener's time.
The next notable track off of Wickipedia is the third track, "Get Back or Sit Back." This track starts off the sample showcase that this project is. The song begins, and the first thing that comes to my mind is the song "Jukebox Joints," off of A$AP Rocky's album At.Long.Last.A$AP.
A$AP Rocky and Kanye West sampled "Much Better Off" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Shawny Binladen then went on to sample A$AP Rocky's track for his song. That's the beauty in music and music production, it's like a circular cycle. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles released "Much Better Off" in 1968. "Jukebox Joints" was released in 2015 now we are in 2021, with Shawny releasing this song with the same soulful sound.
The track "Get Back or Sit Back" is a complete 360 from the two songs it got its sample from. The soulful humming of Smokey Robinson is directly contrasted by Shawny's raspy whispering style of rap. Aside from his cadence, the things he's saying on the track aren't something you would expect to hear over that type of sample. This is where Shawny separates himself from many of his peers. He is willing to rap over any sample and make it work in his favor. In this song, he does just that.
Three tracks later, the showcase ramps up a little bit more. This time on the track "Real Mutha Fucking Grinch." For all the rap and hip hop historians, the name of this song should ring some bells and remind you of the classic Eazy-E track "Real Muthaphuckkin G's," released in 1993.
If you put two and two together, you could guess that was sampled for this track. Off of my first listen, I was already enjoying the song before I even heard Shawny rapping. The sample is classic and the instrumental alone is phenomenal. Pair this sample with Shawny's unorthodox catchy delivery and you have yourself a song you blast in your car or in the gym.
To hear an East Coast rapper rap over a retro West Coast beat is tough in itself, especially with the contrasting sounds that still exist to this day. Many people listening today don't know who Eazy-E is, or never heard any of his work, and Shawny using this sample keeps his memory alive.
If you're one of those music listeners who doesn't fully listen to a project or only looks for the songs with stars near them, then you would probably miss the best sample on the project. When I say the best on the project, I mean the best flip and best song sonically.
The song "How We Grinch" isn't one of those songs with the star near its name (I don't know how). Yet, it's probably the best-sounding song out of the 17 tracks.
The song starts off with the well-known line "This is how we do it," and you should immediately know where you have heard this before. The drill beat follows those famous words and Shawny says his infamous "oh yeah" to start his verse. From that point, it only gets better.
The use of a sample from such a famous and nostalgic song "This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan; gives this song a boost sonically. The upbeat tempo mixed in with the whispering rapping of Shawny Binladen talking about eating at the STK Steakhouse just goes crazy. This is the type of song that catches your attention just purely off the sample and upbeat tempo that the flip creates. This song is a W.
Going into a Shawny Binladen project, you shouldn't expect something introspective. Can't approach listening to Wickipedia expecting some hidden life lessons. It's Shawny Binladen, not J. Cole or Kendrick Lamar. What he doesn't fulfill lyrically, he makes up for with flows, cadence, style, and these samples that just catch your attention.
I was skeptical of Shawny Binladen four years ago when my guy Sean tried to put me on. The music grows on you over time and that might be the case for some readers who aren't quite in tune with Shawny Binladen and his music.
Listen to him if you want, or not. Whatever you decide to do just know there are 13 other tracks I didn't cover all filled with great samples you might enjoy. Shawny Binladen does call himself the "King of Samples," and Wickipedia is a showcase of just that.