Maryland Hip-hop musician and wordsmith Shaw Calhoune presents us with his latest effort “Fly Langston”. The EP consists of seven songs and runs for eighteen minutes overall. This is his fifth EP with his first EP The Outlook released in 2019. The record cover artwork by Sergio Santos features some watercolour paint art with a beautiful back cover with the track list names, which look incredibly artsy.
Released by Big Eleanor Records and recorded at The Kaleidoscope, the EP is based on jazz and poetry from the Harlem Renaissance with an emphasis on community, feeling fresh, and positivity. The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater, politics, and scholarship centered in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, spanning the 1920s and 1930s. The record has been produced with finesse by Manchester, UK based producer Four Limbs.
Fellow rappers and hip-hop artists like Barry Marz, Dj Skruff, and Sir Dominique Jordan are featured on the tracks A House Sparrow’s Feather and Jazz Club Session. The blend of classic era jazz combined with modern underground hip-hop is truly visionary and grants a cinematic feel to the effort.
Buttoned Up commences the record, setting the sonic tone for the record. Combining the gritty vocal feel with the retro jazz arrangement is a delight to the ears. A House Sparrow’s Feather, the second track, features rapping vocals forming a counterpoint on this serene number with the apt amount natural instrumental finesse. The third song, Killer-Diller Coat, contains killer horn sections and basslines. Scarlet Stained Leathers is the penultimate and sixth track, which has a great tension and release flow while the aural space is saturated with jazz. The final track Black and White Bird’s Eye contains a recurring blues guitar lick played tastefully with a clean tone with the right amount of juice.
Fly Langston is an effort that pays homage to a classic era while creating something entirely fresh and new with modern hip-hop. By combining a positive outlook and community-oriented lyrics, Shaw Calhoune has created an EP that is sure to inspire listeners and make them feel uplifted.
The jazz influence is particularly evident in the EP’s harmonies, melodies, and arrangements, which feature complex chord progressions, intricate horn lines, and lush arrangements. Calhoune’s lyrics and flow embody the spirit of underground hip-hop, with his clever wordplay, vivid imagery, and conscious themes. His lyrics explore a wide range of topics making “Fly Langston” an introspective and thought-provoking musical journey.
The musical aspects of “Fly Langston” by Shaw Calhoune are characterized by a seamless integration of jazz and hip-hop elements. Creating a cinematic and evocative listening experience that is both musically and lyrically rich is something to relish. It is a testament to Calhoune’s artistry and his ability to seamlessly blend different musical styles and traditions.