LISTEN: Shadowpact – “Stay Down” [prod. Nick B]

Another day, another single from Shadowpact. That may seem written in resignation, as if somehow wearied by the incessant flow of awesome from the dynamic duo of emcees Modern Marvill and Sleye Kooper and their revolving door of producers, but it’s anything but. A slow and steady stream of solid bops has, whether intentional or not, developed a tension for a new full length; can’t we get like half an hour of dope beats and clever rhymes, please? The world is a rotten place full of villains and villainy, and seems to get worse every day; what we need is more lines about nerd shit and going hard at life, because why not.

With Stay Down, Shadowpact have pared down the references for a more traditional lyrical take on hip-hop, the classic “we’re awesome, deal with it” routine made famous by, well, pretty much every rapper in history. There is a playful Beastie Boysvibe here, which is bravado infused with a little self-doubt, or at least so it would seem from my perspective. But then, and this is real talk, despite the fact that I have a BA in English and write on a daily level, I still get this kind of thing wrong on the regular. That’s the joy of art though: it’s subjective.

The beat is a little grimier than their usual, with production on this cut by the undeniable Nick B. It’s been nice to hear how the pair mix with outside collaborators, and they’ve proven that they have a good ear for quality. Still, it’ll be nice to hear more from erstwhile producer Artemis the Archer. And that’s not a knock at Nick B either. This track is great and he continues to shine.

Listen below and get into it. This track is a single from the now released Little Heart Records sampler, which you can get here.

LISTEN: Dom B ft. Shadowpact – “2016 Untouchables”

I can accept the premise implicit in the title of the track: Dom B and Shadowpact are untouchable. I’m not sure if that premium expires at the beginning of 2017, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy the righteousness of their rhymes. There is a classiness to this beat that I have to attribute to the horn section, but that is definitely backed by the lyrical prowess of all involved. Never has Shadowpact sounded grittier, here as back up for Dom B, who is coming out of the gates swinging with this track. There is a slow groove here that makes you feel like you’re going to sip bourbon in a dimly lit bar, hunched over in a black leather chair, decked out in a suit with no tie, the collar kind of open a little, because you don’t give a fuck. It’s cinematic that way and definitely gets into your head.

You can snatch this up on July 16th at the Mag Bar when Dom B drops his new full length. Based on the strength of this track alone we’ve all got a lot to look forward to. Clever rhymes and fly beats are the currency that Dom B and Shadowpact deal in, and our musical economy is all better off for it. Also, and I think this merits a little nod, but dig deep here for a dope shout out. Spoiler alert: blush. Listen below and try for a second to not feel like one ill motherfucker.

LISTEN: Shadowpact – “Ballad of Fallen Angels”

It’s always a good day when you discover a new Shadowpact track. The always on point duo have a new banger by the way of Ballad of Fallen Angels, a sleepy cut that has a mild energy. At this point it’s a little difficult to come up with new ways to compliment the group, as they continue to satisfy on every level. The beat has a nice bounce to it, but that kind of thing that gets you easy chair riled, where you sit back in your jammies and nod your head to the beat, while you sip on your coffee. This is easy-listening hop, presented here as an asset. There is a bravery in keeping things light rather than relying on bright dynamics to propel a track, the sort that demands hands to be thrown in the air. Instead, Shadowpact have a confidence backed by their impeccable rhymes, and cemented by their flawless production values.

All told, this is a solid listen and offers much promise for their impending release. Relative to that, the text on the SoundCloud account lists that this album should have dropped yesterday. At the moment, I cannot find any trace of that, although that may be user error, and not a reflection of anything lacking here. Regardless, this is an encouraging glimpse into what’s to come. There is an easy air to this track reminiscent of something along the lines of Aesop Rock, Cool Calm Pete, orBlackalicious, a jazzy and ambient beat with a flow that reflects that. Listen below and dig into it.

WATCH: Shadowpact x Easterdaily – “Spacecars”

Hip hop trio Shadowpact are back with another video featuring a track from their Stone The Crows album. They spit bars on “Spacecars” and play video games with Charizard. On the couch at Spinelli’s, putting pizza in their bellies, Shadowpact and Easterdaily, fit together like toast and jelly.

Okay, that rhyme just took me 30 minutes and it’s not even good. This stuff takes too much time. I guess that kind of makes Shadowpact all that more impressive to me. I always thought this rap shit would be easy. Anyway, check out their latest video for “Spacecars.” It’s dope as fuck and makes you feel like you’re playing video games at Spinelli’s with your crew, even if you’re actually at some shitty office job where they don’t know they are paying you to write for Never Nervous. At least I’m not hungry…

LISTEN: Shadowpact – “Coup De Main” [prod. Artemis the Archer]

Battle raps are an intrinsic part of hip-hop culture, an aspect that I can mostly appreciate. I’m not a violent kind of guy and prefer diplomacy to rowdiness, unless you count any situation that requires a dance off to save a community center from greedy developers. I’m just not all that competitive a person, so when I hear someone run their mouth about something, for the most part I don’t really give a fuck. Who cares about being competitive? (spoiler: not me)

I’ve been called out for my writing before. Some of it was valid, and some of it read as the most sniveling crybaby shit that I’ve ever laid eyes to, but I’ve never felt compelled to get heated over it; you learn from life and move on. This is all to say that I’m a little conflicted over the concept at the core of the beef rap, as it can and has in the past skewed way too macho for my tastes, and I’m just not interested. Unless it’s funny. And goddamn do Shadowpact deliver.

To set the scene a little, back in the halcyon days of… fuck, I don’t know, sometime last year, Shadowpact played a set somewhere with an emcee named Illusive. So far as I can surmise, the central thesis to his beef here is that Shadowpact bounced early from the show, and in the process missed his set. You read that right: someone got angry (and maybe more than a little sad) and decided to throw down the gauntlet because another group had to go home. Because it was a work night, and, you know, folks have to get up early for work when they do that. You can refer to our first rule of Scene Etiquette for our thoughts on the matter, but I might also direct you to a different entry on that list that may shed some light on why anyone may put sleep above your set. And you can definitely point to this rule of Scene Etiquette about ol’ Illusive here, because as his name implies, he has no internet presence that I can find. Is this one crybaby or a pack of such? Listen below and get a taste of this wackness.

No more tears, guys. Honestly, it’s not the worst track I’ve heard, even if the central thesis is some seriously misguided fussiness. And yes, I wrote “fussiness” on purpose, because I know a baby when I hear one. The thing is, and this is what I don’t get: why not take the talent you have and spend it on making quality music instead of squandering it on this? I guess the answer is that no one would be talking about you unless you ride on the coattails of someone else, and I’m not sure why that logic is satisfactory for anyone. This track sat in obscurity for months and only got attention when it came to the attention of Shadowpact who do have the wherewithal to share things on the internet. Take that passion and turn it into something productive. Or have fun with it like Shadowpact did on their reply. Listen to that below, and get ready to laugh.

Fuck. These lyrics are killing me: “He’s the type that slits his wrists and cries playing AFI,” or “Slow dance to My Chemical Romance.” That’s some rascally haterisms, and while we don’t typically support that kind of thing you have to give credit to a funny turn of phrase, and one that equally eviscerates everyone involved: take that AFI and My Chemical Romance you’re collateral damage, bay-bee. Of course, Illusive has taken that piss in his pants (or their pants, whatever) and made a response to this, but it’s the kind of thing where people get called “faggots” and “bitches” and that kind of talk is horse shit. Fuck that noise, and get the fuck out of here. Get your plugs literally any other place than here.
And seriously: Shadowpact is not an Avengers reference you fucking twits.

WATCH: Shadowpact – “Bats in the Belfry”

Are you ready to get spooked the fuck out? Well I wasn’t, but here we are. In fact, here I am 23 minutes after I was supposed to leave work sitting at a computer and typing about Shadowpact, because they’ve got that kind of power over me. That’s right: I could go home and kick off my weekend, but this video is fire like that and you all need to see it. Why you might ask? Because this song is the best and it’s super catchy. And the video is a fun, lo-fi horror romp that sees our protagonists apparently making an actual shadow pact with a bunch of robbed figures looming in the background who ultimately murders everyone and throws them in the Ohio river. That’s heavy shit, and a serious commitment to your craft that you would get into the Ohio on purpose for art; respect them.

The video is super fun and, I believe, shot by Allen Poe. It recalls the best of 80’s horror, which our man Phil here is obsessed with. It reminds me of those sorts of slasher films that would make Tipper Gore cry back in the day, the kind that freaks out all the squares and makes old people afraid of devil worshippers running around and ruining it for everybody, whatever “it” is. It’s just great to see folks having fun and leaning into the season with their work, and we are proud to debut this video here at Never Nervous, even if it means leaving work now half an hour after closing time. Watch it below and spread it to the masses.

REVIEW: Shadowpact – “Stone the Crows”

Stone The Crows
Little Heart Records

When Shadowpact dropped The Narrative in 2014 I had mixed feelings about it. On one hand I really felt like they were on to something, while on the other I only really cared for about half of the album. They were super young dudes dropping their first album, so I was excited to see where it all led. A year later, Shadowpact is back with Stone the Crows and I can easily say that excitement has been fulfilled.

This album offers a supremely different contrast from The Narrative in that it sounds fuller and clearer as each song is distinctly its own. The mixing and mastering on this album is also improved and it sounds fucking great. You can hear every word and video game related sound with perfect clarity. It’s seriously impressive.

Those video game related tones and samples on this album perfectly reflect the lyrical content as well. The first track, “Game Over,” is an excellent example of this. When one uses a bit crushing tone and refers to himself as an “Orc Slasher” he is working with a clear theme. Gaming is a theme I can get behind, but it’s not the only on the album.

Each song both thematically and musically stands on its own. The only idea that seems to come up more than once is a carnival atmosphere. In “86’ed” Marvel literally says, “Welcome to our carnival.” In “Bearnos” they introduce each other in a carnival way while the beat is whimsical and happy which fits in with the carnival theme.

The standout track is definitely “Bats in the Belfry.” It’s upbeat, catchy, and it’s fucking fun. It’s the type of jam that gets you jumping up and down and everyone was doing just that at The Highlands Taproom for the Stone the Crows release party a week or so ago.

I’m really impressed with how far Shadowpact has come in just a year’s time. Stone the Crows sounds like a release from a group who’s been doing this for a decade. Once again, they have me excited for where they are going in the future, but this time I’m more excited about what they just put out.

WATCH: Shadowpact Performs “Bats In The Belfry” Live Inside Never Nervous Headquarters

A few weeks ago, we had Shadowpact on The Never Nervous Podcast. After the interview, they agreed to perform a song from their upcoming EP Stone The Crows inside Never Nervous Headquarters AKA my living room.  This is the third in a series of casual live videos that we have been fortunate enough to put together.  This particular showing was such a good time, as these dudes were flawless (as usual).

Stone The Crows is scheduled to hit the streets this Friday, August 28th via Little Heart Records, and to celebrate its release a kick-ass show is set to happen that very night at Highlands Tap Room.  Joining them will be Skyscraper Stereo, Kogan Dumb, Bonez and Allen Poe… what a fucking lineup! For more information on the event, go here.

PODCAST: Shadowpact Returns to Talk About Their New EP, Game of Thrones, and Shit that Goes Wrong at Shows!

Shadowpact, who we consider to be one of Louisville’s finest hip hop troupes, returns for another interview which we are super stoked to present. They stopped by Never Nervous Headquarters to promote their upcoming EP Stone The Crows,which is scheduled to hit the streets August 28th via Little Heart Records. We were fortunate enough to get our hands on this noise early, and I’m here to tell you that this shit is top shelf. The release show/party is scheduled to happen Friday, August 28th at Highlands Tap Room. For more information on the event go here.

In the mean time, listen as we talk about the new EP, Game of Thrones, and shit that goes wrong while performing live below:

Preorder Stone The Crows by going here.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are a few Game of Thrones spoilers on this episode, nothing too earth shattering.  So there’s your warning.

NN PRESENTS: Best Records of 2014

ShadowpactThe Narrative
If I had half the talent these kids had when I was 20, well… shit, I don’t know how to finish that analogy. I mean, I can’t speak for them. I have no idea what they want to do, just that they make some fantastic hip-hop at a skill level that I personally would not have been able to reproduce. And now I’m thinking that my scale here “could-Syd-do-it” is really condescending, like I’m the ultimate barometer or something. What I’m really trying to say (THE POWER OF LANGUAGE, Y’ALL), is that The Narrative is a damn fine showing, a smooth as fuck album, with clever rhyme schemes and dope beats, one they should be proud of. I hope very much that the good folks in Shadowpact blow the fuck up, if that’s even something they’d want. They definitely deserve it. [LISTEN]