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Shystie - Diamond in the Dirt


Review: Jack Foley

FOR someone so young and successful, Shystie seems to have an awful lot to be guarded about, if the lyrics on her debut album, Diamond in the Dirt, are anything to go by.

But then judging by the current state of today's rappers-cum-hip-hop wannabes, having a chip on the shoulder, and an easy ability to drop a swear word of three, seems to be the recipe for success.

Just ask the scorned likes of Eamon!

In Shystie's case, however, it seems a little unwarranted, given the positive vibe surrounding the 21-year-old rapper, dubbed the fastest MC in the UK.

Already hailed as the next big thing, Shystie shows real glimpses of talent throughout her debut long-player, which makes some of the more controversial stuff stick out like a sore thumb.

Here is an artist who seems quite adept at mixing styles, who occasionally gets caught resorting to easy answers and cheap tactics.

Her wordy intro is an unapologetic rant against those who would put her down, while former single, One Wish, contains lyrics such as 'You don't know where I've been, you don't know what I've seen, so how can you judge me?'

The anger seems a little unnecesary and, dare I say, pretentious, at certain points.

Tracks such as Gutter and Bank Robbery also do little but invite comparisons with other better artists, such as Ms Dynamite and Dizzee Rascal (well, maybe not better, in this case!).

But then the album catches you by surprise. In tracks such as the deeply soulful, finger-clicking Unfinished Business, she displays a fine smooth groove style that would probably make Beyonce proud (especially since the track also features a set of male vocals, which could easily be Jay-Z).

It may be more commercial than the urban sound of earlier tracks, but that's no bad thing. Shystie, aka Chanelle 'Shystie' Calica sounds far more at ease emulating divas, than trying to set herself up as some sort of female Eminem.

Other highlights include the fast-talking Can't Play, which demonstrates the MC's speed-talking claim, but which is neatly offset by a gospel-style backing chorus, and Somedayz, which slows things down a little, and again incorporates some cool gospel, and a funky guitar bassline.

It is during such moments that the young MC justifies her hype, and, possibly, where the key to her success really lies.

Diamond in the Dirt is by no means the take-notice breakthrough that Shystie is hoping it will be, but if she listens to the young words of the small girl featured on the Somedayz Skit interlude, then the future looks bright for this clearly talented urban artist.

The words in question? "Don't give up, reach higher, you've got a destiny ahead, the more you try, the more you achieve."

Track listing:
1. Intro Skit
2. One Wish (Album Version)
3. Gutter
4. Step Bac
5. Woman's World (Gurlz Stand Up)
6. Questions (Game Show)
7. Make It Easy
8. Unfinished Bizzness
9. Bank Robbery feat Ron,e Redeyez
10. Get Loose
11. Can't Play
12. Somedayz skit
13. Somedayz
14. Armshouse
15. Juiced

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