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Volume 70, Issue 47, Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Life & Arts

Shawnna's 'Weight' won't rescue rap from its rut

By Zach Lee 
The Daily Cougar

The comic-book theme of the liner notes for Shawnna's debut Worth tha Weight is appropriate -- her music is the over-hyped and mass-produced pulp fiction of the hip-hop world. The liner notes are plastered with photos of her in painfully obvious poses and sleek drawings of her sitting at a desk. It's obvious whoever designed them would have those who buy the album believe Shawnna is some sort of stylistic superhero to hip-hop. She's not.

Shawnna's not a terrible lyricist (after all, those don't usually make it to the major labels), but in the vein of most radio rap, she's far from spectacular. She works the formula well. There's bravado and an abundance of drug references and beats made to get the dance floor sweaty. The only thing that sets her apart from the slew of formulaic rappers on the radio today is her vagina. The album isn't enough to push any boundaries other than the public's stomach for the same product.

"R.P.M." is a track with some impressive vocals by Shawnna, Twista and Ludacris, but it's ruined by a Shondrae beat more abrasive and regrettable than a bad Robitussin trip. Kanye West does his best to counter Shondrae's terrible contribution to the album with the infectious beat for "What Can I Do." Kanye's beat and a verse by Missy Elliot turn the track unquestionably into one of the album's best songs. 

N.O.R.E. and Jermaine Dupri also make solid appearances, but Shawnna manages to keep the majority of the album's playing time focused on her. Even though she's a member of Ludacris' Disturbing tha Peace record label stable of artist, she makes sure to separate herself from the Dirty South with her lyrics: "C-H-I to the C-A-G-O / If you ain't been, don't go / My city's so fast; you react so slow / Your heart might stop, and your blood won't flow."


Worth the Weight

Interscope Records

Verdict: It's good for what it is, but it ain't nothing new.

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