For years now, I’ve been in and out of the west coast hip hop scene and mainly because the scene in Los Angeles has never struck me as the kind of scene that loves hip hop like they used to. I’ve been searching high and low, in every single corner possible for the next artists to come out of Los Angeles that, if not may blow me away, could at least show me that the west side of the country was been paying attention and taking notes. Shane Eli, one of the young guns and more underrated lyricists/producers that is coming out of Los Angeles, has been making noise with me since he released his record “The Push” awhile back. Things were pretty serious for the young emcee heading into the future and there was no sign of Shane Eli giving up or swerving into a direction that might decapitate his flow or work ethic. It’s too early to tell if Shane Eli is the future of hip hop but the fact that he put out “The Push”, which was a very solid record and now he’s following it up with “I Can Do Better”, this means that he’s here to stay even if you hate the guy.
As you let “I Can Do Better” spin for the first time, you get the sense that Shane Eli is literally walking around with skyscrapers on his back and shoulders. As if the pressure of the world isn’t enough, this hellcat of an emcee is really pressured by his peers and the hip hop world to put out solid material, even if this is only his sophomore record. As the pressure from the outside world may bother him to an extent I feel as if the pressure he puts on himself is far more important than anything else the world has to offer or say. Even though this record isn’t as personal and forthcoming as “The Push”, Shane Eli is still giving you storytelling, dropping knowledge and spreading the word of truth in the seventeen tracks that are provided. Don’t think that “I Can Do Better” falls short though, it’s still filled with those catchy hooks, magical moments in the production and the intent to drive your head into the ground if you lose sight of where Shane Eli might be heading in the next couple bars.
Let’s be honest, we live in world where dance hits, a certain flow and commercial rap reigns over everything else in sight. It’s time that certain artists stand up tall, stick that chest out and “hulk smash” the entire path of hip hop with open fists and if I had to pick one front-runner to do so, Shane Eli would be the guy. “I Can Do Better” reminds me of that feel when I first heard Common, only with a heavier heart and objectives to accomplish things that nobody else can. It’s sort of like Shane Eli has this fire in his chest that nobody could put out yet he keeps it under control to prove that he has the right and power to create anything he wishes. No matter how positive the message is, how dark the flow can get or how consumed you get into this record, you still feel like everything Shane Eli is spitting at you can happen and has happened. With that said, I can’t call this record a classic because for one, it just got released and second, it takes time to let a record sit and see how it feels over the years. I can tell you that from the first couple listens, “I Can Do Better” has the potential to be a classic because everything matches up from the production, the flow of the overall record and the features are even on point but on the other hand, it’s way to early to confirm “I Can Do Better” as a classic.
The main question in my mind is that if Shane Eli can conquer the things that have battled him thus far, what does the future hold for this young talent? He most definitely has the drive, the skill and the mind to destroy everything in his path and as long as he focuses on the end goal, whatever that may be, I feel like Shane Eli can reach the sky, pull the clouds down and make a comfy bed as he watches the people love his records in the future.
Listen to “If I Don’t Make It” below: