Happy Turkey Day audiophiles!
Seeing as it's Black Friday, I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to do another feature on Rebecca Black.
I'm totally kidding.
Whether you celebrate the day or not, it's hard to deny the overall theme of being thankful. I'm sure you got at least a couple of things you're thankful for, even if you don't like turkey or you're not into the whole Pilgrim thing.
One thing I'm very thankful for is amazing fans who take their love of something to new heights; applying their own creativity and unique talents to a project birthed solely from a desire to express their fandom. From cosplay, to viral videos, to visual art, to, you guessed it, music. I'm even more thankful that every week I manage to find musicians that cite gaming as their inspiration, and am able to feature them here.
Hip-hop beat-maker Shag is one such artist, and if given a guess I'd say that when it comes to gaming this guy is probably thankful for a certain green tunic-wearing swordsman.
At just eighteen years of age Shag has already produced an impressive collection of original beats, but more impressive than his musical quantity is the quality of it all. Some artists have their weak moments, those tracks that you politely skip over, but I've yet to find a Shag beat I'm not a fan of. And in case you forgot: eighteen years old.
Were you producing original, professional-level music at that age? I know I wasn't.
As of writing the young beat-maker has fourteen albums and collections, all available via his bandcamp and all worth a, as this aptly titled track suggests, Listen.
That is the corniest thing I've ever written here, and I apologize.
Shag's work is simple and steady, harkening back to the roots of hip-hop and not getting lost in the overproduced trajectories that is the norm in mainstream hip-hop these days. That being said the music isn't without its surprises; Shag manages to find the right balance between simple rhythm and dynamic sample-use, beat drops, and mood shifts.
Not to overdo the whole, 'omg he's eighteen' thing but for such a young artist there is a surprising amount of deep thought that goes into each album. This guy is really thinking about his music in a craft-analytical way that many young artists overlook, and thankfully he isn't opposed to sharing some of that analysis with his audience:
Keys. As you're listening to this, I want you to think of each individual song as a key. This key should unlock a mental, intangible door somewhere in your head. Let the music through the door and use each individual piece to analyze yourself in some way. I want each listener to have a different experience. It may be corny, but ultimately it's up to you.
If nothing else, just nod your head and put this on while you read, or do homework, or masturbate or something.
Each album's description also brings with it anecdotes about what's going on in Shag's life, and if you really wanted to it might be fun to try to map the music's progression with the snippets we get about his personal ups and downs. Or, you could just kick back and
masturbate relax to it.
Here is his most recent album, Keys. My personal favorite track is Breeze, which combines a jazzy piano with some soothing synth chords. And this album isn't without its fair share of saxophone, which is always a big plus for me.
sax 4 life
But why is Mr.Shag being featured here you ask? Well, it just so happens that we've got a gamer on our hands. While Shag's strong catalog is comprised primarily of original beats he has one album that is all about The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Everybody does Ocarina music, it's to be expected when you're one of the most influential games of all time. It takes a talented hand to craft something worthwhile and different with the iconic themes we've heard time and time again. And in this case, the idea of hip-hop Ocarina....well, if you're a gaygamer.net regular that probably sounds familiar.
But fear not! This isn't Ocarina of Rhyme par deux, and Shag will be the first to tell you! While that stellar project, of which Shag is a fan himself, was all about mashing up hip-hop with Zelda tracks, Flyrule is entirely original work: using Zelda as a starting ground. As he puts it it's less remix and more reimagining.
At this point I'd normally point out the stand out tracks, and I'm going to, but it's hard to pick stand outs when the entire album is stand out.
Shag has made clever use of sound effect samples throughout the album. He's somehow made use of the Title Theme and menu select sound effects in a way that's never been done before. On the bonus track he even crafts a beat almost entirely out of Navi sound clips. It's not as annoying as you might think...but if you're not a Navi fan I'd proceed with caution.
Sometimes all you need is a drum kit, a sample, and a few sound effects as the beautiful Zelda Lullaby beat can attest to.
Sometimes going a little more complicated, and playing around with the original sample, is the way to go as you can see in the Gerudo Valley and Lost Woods tracks.
Spirit Temple and Sheik's Them are probably the most 'produced' this album ever gets, and while Shag does take the original songs to bold new places he does so without ever losing the spirit of the originals.
This album is pretty non-obtrusive overall, but is lightyears away from being anything one might call 'background noise.' It's perfect for getting lost in while you work on another project.
or masturbate....thinking of Link
That wraps it up for this week. If you're planning a venture into the dark world that is Black Friday, why not let Shag's sick beats help guide your way?
And if you're thankful for any gaming-centric musicians that you'd like to see featured, be sure to let me know in the comments section.
Catch you all next week.