After three years behind the scenes, still writing but keeping his music to himself, Teesside rapper Shakk finally decided that it was time to make a comeback, reinvent himself and in turn take the North East hip-hop scene by storm. Shakk made a statement with his ‘Liquid Water’ freestyle video uploaded to Facebook on 16th May, it quickly created a buzz around him as a new rapper to be taken seriously. Shakk then followed up with another freestyle, before dropping his debut EP ‘I AM YOU’ on 6th June; a five track project, coming in at just under 20 minutes long.
The EP kicks off with the juvenilely titled “Pickle Rick” – don’t be fooled by the title though, this track is far from a Rick and Morty comedy introduction to Shakk, it’s more like an opening manifesto, it’s Shakk setting up shop and telling you in no uncertain terms what he’s all about. Shakk flows smoothly with some good old fashioned braggadocios bars, sprinkled with heavily political anti-war and anti-establishment sentiments – “War makes too much profit, see these kids are getting bombed with ease…”
“24/7” and “Unconditional” both show a poppier side to Shakk, with softly sung female hooks. “24/7” is an upbeat, motivational track that’s all about evolving and working through whatever life throws at you, where as “Unconditional” is the only real ‘love song’ on the EP; it sees Shakk get a bit more melodic whilst he confesses his love for a possibly disgruntled ex-partner that he feels he’s done wrong by.
The standout cut from the EP is without a doubt “Young Pablo“. The Latin inspired guitar backed song is fun, catchy and again shows how dynamic Shakk can be in terms of tackling both lighthearted poppier tracks and serious political rapper’s rap songs. This is also the only track where Shakk tackles the hook alone – you can’t help but want to dance to this exuberantly produced tune.
“Overtime” ends the EP in the same way that it began; it’s a didactic bar fest that takes aim at the corporations that rule our world, fund war, corrupt politicians and condemn the majority of the population to a 9-5 life working for ‘the man’.
Overall, ‘I AM YOU’ is a fantastic first offering from the Teesside rapper. With only five tracks Shakk manages to flex his lyrical muscles whilst also completing a hip-hop triathlon of sorts; he demonstrates his ability to create a range of very different tracks without compromising his own unique style. Shakk is no one trick pony, he has intelligent lyrics, he has flow, he has melody and he has an ear for a catchy hook – ‘I AM YOU’ shows a lot of promise for the future.