Sheek Louch: Silverback Gorilla

Anthony Henriques

The third album from least-known LOX/D-Block member continues a trend of exceeding medium-sized expectations with logarithmic artistic progression.

Sheek Louch

Silverback Gorilla

Label: D-Block
US Release Date: 2008-03-18
UK Release Date: 2008-03-31

As a member of the Yonkers, NY trio The LOX, Sheek Louch has consistently been overshadowed by his two partners. This is not without reason as both Jadakiss and Styles P deserve mention in any discussion of the greatest emcees working today. Jadakiss is, quite simply, one of the cleverest wordsmiths and punch-line artists in hip-hop’s history with an incredibly smooth flow and a great, raspy voice. Styles P, with his hardcore lyricism and fierce delivery, possesses a Tupac-like ability to get powerful messages across. Sheek, as far as his strengths as an artist are concerned, falls quite literally right in between the other two members of his crew; he shows flashes of cleverness with a voice not quite as raspy as Jada’s and an emotional delivery that lacks some of Styles’ intensity. Considering this, his status as the least heralded member of The LOX makes perfect sense; it also, however, might explain his track record as perhaps the most consistent solo artist of the crew. While he might never reach the highs that Jadakiss or Styles have reached, his strengths possibly extend across a larger range than either of his two cohorts.

Sheek’s first two solo albums, Walk Wit’ Me and After Taxes, released in 2003 and 2005, respectively, were both solid, good-but-not-great works which displayed promising artistic growth from one to the other. As soon as the lead single “Good Love” from his third LP Silverback Gorilla hit, it became apparent that this positive trend would continue. The track – produced by the underrated Red Spyda -- utilizes a soulful Betty Wright sample and bouncy piano keys over which Sheek rhymes verses that are just as much about finding good love from women as they are about loving life in general. It is an uncharacteristically happy song that brings to mind (but doesn’t quite deserve comparisons to) classics like Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” and The Game’s “Hate It or Love It”.

Sheek never sounds as upbeat as he does on “Good Love” throughout the rest of Silverback Gorilla, but he generally addresses topics with a seemingly more positive outlook than he has in the past. He might have angrily chastised copycat rappers before, but on “Don’t Be Them” he offers support and encourages wannabes to recognize their own potential without emulating their idols. The album is not without its fair share gangster threats and holier-than-thou braggadocio, but Sheek, more often than not approaches things with sincerity and a sense of humor. He even sarcastically acknowledges his rank within The LOX referring to himself as “the sleeper of the crew” on “We Spray Crowds”.

Silverback Gorilla boasts a guest list that does nothing if not prove the respect Sheek has from all across the hip-hop map. He adopts a southern flow on “We Comin’” with Atlanta’s Unk and surprisingly succeeds without the song sounding like an awkward attempt at a crossover. “Think We Got a Problem” features The Game and Bun-B, both of whom are not only extremely popular in their respective regions, but also worldwide. Other features include Fat Joe, as well as Jim Jones and Hell Rell from the Diplomats. Jadakiss and Styles P each show to support their crew member, twice and three times, respectively. Considering that this is an independent release for which the collaboration budget couldn’t have been too large, the fact that these artists appear attests to the kind of name Sheek (with much due to his affiliation) has built in the world of hip-hop.

The problem with Sheek Louch as a solo artist is that a consistently good album like Silverback Gorilla seems to be the best thing that could have been expected from him. The two other members of his crew have demonstrated high points that make them seem capable of crafting classics; a merely good album from either of them will always be perceived as somewhat of a failure. Unless he somehow shows us some great strength we never knew he had, Sheek has already either met or exceeded most expectations anyone would have had for him. On “Mic Check”, he reflects upon what his group done and the impression they will leave on hip-hop. The fact is that, no matter how many albums as good as Silverback Gorilla Sheek manages to put out, the legacy of the LOX will always appear to be more dictated by the work of Jadakiss and Styles P.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.