CD review: Shunda K, The Most Wanted (with audio)

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You could easily argue that technical proficiency is becoming more and more irrelevant when it comes to being a chart topping mc these days.  Scanning the local hip hop stations for any decent amount of time will make one realize that, yeah, elements likes cadence, annunciation, and speed are still valued in the hip hop world, yes, but not nearly as much as the almighty hook or the syrupy sweet production or the replay value of any certain track.

But, if chart success were based solely on technical ability, Shunda K. would, no doubt, be peering down on us from a mountain of crisp dollar bills and royalty checks.  Her newest album, The Most Wanted, is an admirable work of verbal gymnastics over a assortment of diverse, textured, and, frankly, bangin' club beats.  It’s animated, unbridled, the work of, no doubt, a very competent mc, but yet, lacks something.

Lyrically, Shunda K.’s a force not to be fucked with.  With a deep-voiced delivery and breakneck speed, she tackles subjects from her own sexual prowess, to spirituality, and everything you could imagine in between.  She’s fired up; you can hear behind almost every word.  Rapping is a two front attack; there’s what you say, but also how you say it.  Shunda K. is a true entertainer in both these arenas.

If anything, K’s delivery on The Most Wanted, is just too much of a good thing though, if that makes any sense.   Like many great mc’s, she’s got a signature style and it works, but she’s clung to it.  Tracks like “Oh Baby Girl” find her venturing into less aggressive territory, but not enough to feign that she’s transcended the one way she raps.

This leaves The Most Wanted in very singular mood territory, if you will.  I’d imagine it’s a great record if the mood is right, like you’re getting ready for a wrestling match or something, but little else.  Any longtime fan of Shunda K. or her previous group, Yo Majesty, probably know and appreciate this, and rightfully so.  The Most Wanted, even with these few blemishes, is a damn good record.  If Shunda K. can break out of and transcend her signature style, if she can make that leap, she’ll go from damn good to damn great.

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