In a rap and hip-hop world dominated by materialistic clichés and at times incomprehensible gibberish, independent rap artist Souleye’s Shapeshifting speaks to the soul of the human experience through an unmatched lyrical positivity, incredible soothing delivery and melodic instrumentals.
Shapeshifting, Souleye’s eighth independent album, is an eleven-track exploration covering a wide range of thematic and sonic territory. It keeps in theme with Souleye’s previous works, dwelling on the subject of introspection, taking a deep look into the human condition. While the album is undoubtedly a work of hip-hop, it also carries inspirations from other genres such as funk, electronic, and R&B, as Souleye seamlessly infuses a psychedelic touch to create an otherworldly music piece.
The first song of the album, “Human Overwhelm,” is as soothing an introduction as you’ll find. Simply put, it’s an audibly inviting song that set the tone for the rest of the album as Souleye’s smooth delivery tells of his journey from a boy to a man, stressing the importance of “self love” and the theme of personal maturation.
Other tracks are just as intricately crafted and well produced. “Labeled,” featuring an intense hook, serves as a vigorous exploration of the struggle to maintain one’s identity in a world quick to pigeonhole us into one. Listening through the album for the first time, I was shocked at the overall production quality, as Souleye manages to incorporate electronic elements like keyboards and synthesizers to embolden each and every track.
Furthermore, Souleye’s use of uplifting beats greatly enhances the listening experience, particularly on headphones. The entire album is a groove heavy affair, and Souleye also makes excellent use of guest vocals, such as on the track “Magic Life.”
While Shapeshifting is a fantastically produced album, Souleye’s talent as a lyricist and rapper cannot be overlooked. The song “Starting Point” highlights his ability as an emcee, as his smooth rhymes and flawless delivery of fluid lyrics makes his messages and lyrical content easy to comprehend.
Souleye’s smooth flow is again on display in “More than Five,” as he unleashes a tongue-twisting rap over a surreal, chaotic background buoyed by exotic keyboards and other percussion reverberations. Souleye’s meticulously intricate wordplay and raw lyrical talent in on full display throughout the album, as he does not let up on the mic.
In “The Victim,” the first single and second to last track, we see the culmination of Souleye’s craft. The track is layered in electronic sounds, and is an infectious groove that features plenty of metronomic percussion, rising and falling keyboards, a strong chorus, and of course, Souleye’s watery rap flow.
In summation, Souleye’s Shapeshifting is a meticulously crafted work of art. It’s well produced and easy to listen to, but still offers a poignant uplifting message. The album is an energetic meditation on identity that offers an introspective look into the human experience. It’s a musically and lyrically mature work that seamlessly blends in alternative sounds, and even borrows from old school hip-hop and also elements of trip-hop. Any fan of hip-hop should check out this album, as it’s definitely worth a listen or two.