Music

Shunda K: The Most Wanted

Shunda K deserves to be your favorite foul-mouthed Christian lesbian rapper, but this is no way to put together an album.


Shunda K

The Most Wanted

Label: Fanatic
US Release Date: 2011-01-11
UK Release Date: Import
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Shunda K does identity politics like Michael Bay does film explosions: there’s nobody better, but it’s all a little exhausting. She’s a black Christian lesbian Southern rapper with a hyper-fast flow, a potty-mouth, and a predilection for Euro-club beats. Check check check check check check, aaaand check. Two or three of those elements together would be enough to sustain multiple press junkets, if not an entire career. Shunda tries to cram them all into every song. When that approach works, as it does for a song here and there on her solo debut The Most Wanted, you feel you’re listening to music that’s fantastically new. But alas, you can see where this is going...

The Most Wanted is ultimately a failure of production and editing. This album boasts 14 different producers for its 20 tracks. You know how there’s often an inverse relationship between the quality of a movie script and the number of people who wrote it? (Michael Bay’s movies tend to have three to six writers apiece.) The same principle applies to Wanted. Only a couple of its songs could have made it onto Futuristically Speaking... Never Be Afraid, Shunda’s wonderful 2008 album with Yo! Majesty, the finest defunct lesbian rap group in all Christendom.

Futuristically had plenty of production help, but seven of its songs were helmed by Hardfeelings UK, and those tracks were more delightfully varied than Wanted’s entire hodgepodge. Ironically, this album’s full of dime-a-dozen electro stomps with forgettable hooks. You’d think white-hot up-and-comers like Sick Rick and Blac Waldo could manage one memorable beat apiece, especially given their pseudonyming abilities, but no. Since Wanted was executive produced by Lashunda Flowers, aka Shunda K herself, the blame for this glut falls squarely in her lap.

The only producers to score three tracks here are L.A.’s Raspberry Cocaine and Atlanta’s ConeyGurl. Cocaine’s songs are standouts; they include the pretty synth-blues “Who’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, the nice try “Rock & Roll”, and the empowerment anthem “Art and Music”. The latter is a freedom-through-God-and-music manifesto worthy of Lady Gaga, only with better rapping. Shunda bites its warbled hook from Yo! Majesty’s own “Never Be Afraid” -- one of the few rap songs in 5/4 time, it’s worth noting -- and adds the irresistible line, “Dumb, dumb, deaf, and blind, and I been RAISED UP, to let my light shine!” A couple listens to that and there’s no getting it out of your head.

In fact, when her songs don’t work, the one person you can’t blame is Shunda K the MC. She does the flipped-syllable trick as quickly as Outkast or Field Mob, rolling off effortless triplets and streams of doubletime mumbo jumbo without lapsing into dumb virtuosity. Her verses are full of attitude and little rhythmic hooks that tug you along with her, even when you can’t understand what the heck she’s saying. (The lyric sheet’s really hard to follow, too.)

When you can understand Shunda, she’s a mixed bag. Her basic lyrical paradox, of being liberated by the love of Jesus to create profane party music, is certainly thought-provoking enough. After a while, though, all her messages of godly uplift, self-empowerment, and making dat pussy hers tend to blur together. And anyway, her conception of an all-comforting, all-approving God basically equals Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Slumber Party Theology”, as espoused in Eat, Pray, Love, only without the redeeming narrative thrust and food descriptions. Which is great -- everybody needs to hear Shunda’s message sometimes. But it’s hardly sustaining over the course of TWENTY SONGS.

Here’s one likely response contour of listening to The Most Wanted. At first, it’s really impressive and you wonder whether she can keep it up. After a while, you get tired and wish she’d do something different. A while longer and you just wish it’d end. But oh no -- there’s still 10 more songs to slog through, and they’re not catchy at all. Shunda K deserves to be your favorite Christian lesbian rapper, but this is no way to put together an album.

4

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image