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Volume 69, Issue 67, Monday, December 1, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

Beat junkie twists East Coast rap 

By Zach Lee
The Daily Cougar

With a voice sometimes similar to Biggie Smalls and beats that blend todayis horrorcore with the simplicity of older hip-hop, Big Shang brings a new twist to the East Coast sound.

Representing Washington, D.C., from the southwest side of Houston, Shang is quick to admit his old-school influences. MC Lite, Kool G. Rap, NWA and KRS-One all had major effects on his music. Thatis to be expected of any rapper starting a hip-hop group in 1990. Hip-hop aside, the rapper cites older rock bands like The Who and Black Sabbath as some of his inspiration.

"Wu-Tang (Clan) is a big influence," Shang said. The Clanis flavor is apparent throughout his current CD, Washington Bullet.

He readily admits heis a "beat junkie," and the results of his addiction turn to gold on his record. The mellifluous beats could have been produced by Wu-Tangis RZA himself, but most of them are results of Shangis handiwork, with guest production credit going to both Supreme and D.J. Oz.

"What!!!" is a simple beat that fades in and out, but Supremeis "Killah" is the track most obviously influenced by Wu-Tang. A sampled intro gives way to a track dominated by Asian strings as an unnamed voice proclaims that "this killer is a top assassin. So many people were killed, no evidence of a squad of men -- it was too smooth. This man operates like a killing machine."

In "Whatis My Name (Shang Sung)," Shang raps over a beat reminiscent of GZAis Liquid Swords. A crowd cheers in the background, and what sounds like a church organ adds an interesting element.

"Dreadlock Rasta" has a bit of a reggae feel to it, and "Head Crack" employs a fast-paced piano progression.

Lyrically, Shangis best work is in the verses. "On the mic device slicing Adamis apples with the Ginsu / my tongue stays sharp like tenchu / Spit thoughts over instrumentals / Manifest with pencils," Shang says in "Deadly Blow," and he goes on to ask, "Whatis the focus? A&Ris afraid to promote this / Hibernate for seven years then come back like a lotus."

"Yo, I bring it to your chest like open-heart surgery / Leaving fake emcees in a state of emergency," Shang announces in "Many Styles." His weakness throughout the record is some simple and overly repetitive hooks.

The verses are long and interesting enough to overshadow that shortcoming. The album ends with an impressive freestyle.

"I try to come correct -- I try to come hardcore," Shang said of his musical style. "I got what people are lookini for. Itis raw and itis hard.

"Iim ready to do shows," Shang said. "I want my music to be enjoyed by everybody.

And though he considers the Dark City (D.C.) to be his real home, he gives respect to Houston. "I love the South," he said.

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