Reissuing early Memphis hip hop on wax might seem a tad silly to some. The genre’s lo-fi, DIY sound lends itself more naturally to battered 8-track cassettes than it does the chin stroking, polythene lined, preciiiiiisely horizontal medium of vinyl.
But come on - supremely wanky levels of sonic purity really aren’t what you should be looking for when entering a world as hazy, blunted and raw as the one offered up by Shawty Pimp on Still Comin’ Real. Here the preserved tape hiss is a vital detail, complementing the woozy beats and drawling vocals to the point that you can almost smell the mean ass looking dog on the album’s cover.
Plucked from a stupidly rare ‘95 tape, the tracks are mostly irresistible G-Funk-tinged rollers with a couple harder-hitting hustler anthems and some syrupy street ballads. Lyrically it feels like Shawty addresses pretty much every aspect of life as a cocky/wisecracking/pissed off teenage playa: On Style Like Mine and For Them Bustas he’s a bragging young pimp, on My 9 Glock a ruthless, DGAF gangbanger, while on Come On Wit Me Baby he’s just a whiny kid complaining about his Momma. The production (handled by SP himself) shares in this endearing sense of immaturity, pairing laid-back jazz and soul inflected samples with cheap drum machine beats. The overall effect is almost charmingly amateurish, imbuing the album with a disarming honesty.
Still Comin’ Real is a wonderfully bare bones antidote to the deluge of hyper-polished shite that makes up most of the modern day music industry. It’s unrefined, clumsy and grainy, and all the more transportive because of it. It’s the soundtrack to a childhood on the streets of Memphis that you never knew you had.
Words: Oscar Allan