Shane Eagle liberated a new body of work to succeed 2017’s critically acclaimed Yellow.
Almost two years since the lyricist dropped his last body of work, and since concluded a successful national tour named after his favourite luminous hue, we finally have Never Grow Up. The 7-track project finds Eagle yet again stretching the limits of his own creative freedom – shunning the commercial seductions of trap bops to deliver yet another impressive offering.
His dissent from the establishment continues.
Like before, he’s not afraid to depart from the mould to carve his own nook on this record, a fact which informs his decision to remain independent. Unlike ever before, however, he invites his audience to explore different layers not only to his metamorphic artistry, but also the personal truth that he delivers with much poetic justice.
It’s a truth distilling his childhood as a biracial kid by parents whose roots span continents. Ronnie Hughes is a beautiful and sombre tale detailing the meanings Shane made of these worlds.
These dynamics would later enrich the lyricist’s repertoire of understanding; he touches on the experience of love that is bigger than the ‘regular story of how Europeans try to feast on Africa’s glory’, and expands the narrative to introduce personal acts of pure love that many of us never think about in this context.
Ronnie Hughes is the fourth track on the album, but easily amongst the best. Sonically, it’s a smooth continuation of the classical ecosystem that weaves the lush and classic flows that Eagle so triumphantly delivered on Yellow. Consistent with the album’s overall sound, the song layers organic, raw and classic tones to create a lo-fi Hip Hop atmosphere. The classic horn adds a touch of nostalgia that elevates Shane’s recollections, putting them in one hell of a vibey capsule.
It will take his audience less than 20 minutes to consume Never Grow Up. The EP is a piece of work in which Shane Eagle clearly intends to reconcile the chasm between the artist who blew up to add a veritable mark on the South African soundscape in the last few years, and the 22-year-old Shane Patrick Hughes.
Yellow‘s sibling arrives just weeks after Shane’s Yellow Tour ended with an impressive line-up of supporting acts that included contemporaries Nasty C and Shekhinah. The tour itself testified further to Shane’s disruptive game plan. He’d managed to have his debut album reach gold with minimal hype and almost no gimmicks, after all.
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Where the rapper has been successful in creating dialogues and piquing interest has lain solely in the creative expression of his art; which started with a carefully curated visual social media build-up to the release of Yellow. The gap between Yellow and Never Grow Up saw the arrival of a couple of singles – one which included a very random diss to AKA – and that much talked about galactic visual for YellowVerse.
And while Shane has managed to sustain much of his privacy and the mystery that goes along with it, despite the success of Yellow, this offers his fans access. It’s telling then that he’s used his childhood photographs as visual tools to express this full circle. Homework As$ignment is a textual play that is complemented by the childlike typeface that is part of the album’s artwork.
Ap3x is the album’s promotional single, and it came out just before the album. It’s packed with attitude; Shane is keeping an eye on rappers who are now trying to borrow heavily from his style. It’s the quintessential Hip Hop lexicon strewn over boastful shots of self-aggrandizement that appear in every’ rappers album. It’s part of the culture. The song snaps, no doubt about more.
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Far more interesting, as always, is when Eagle indulges his most musical instincts and delves – both sonically and lyrically – into his elastic ether of abstract thoughts.
Fans will delight on Chocolake Milk:
“I can’t belong I’m growing up this fast, gettin’ rich this quick”.
I’ve discovered there’s nothing quite like driving down Oak Avenue listening to Shane Eagle tackling metaphysical questions, like a metaphysical poet, of the spiritual nature of heaven – the place, the concept, the reality.
His interest in heaven appears severally across the album.
Ride Dolo: What You Wanna Be is that girl on this album.
Shane Eagle ate the hell out of this song. The flow, the tempo, the bars, the 808s… The hook is hella catchy. The whole song has a luxurious vibe with a hushing effect. Listening to this one felt like those moments when you are in a clothing store and that one outfit that exceeds your budget until you buy it over all the other items you could have had.