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Diamond in the Dirt - Shystie

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Genre: Hip-Hop & Rap / Artist: Shystie / Audio CD released 2004-06-12 at Polydor Group

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      22.07.2010 17:26
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      Shystie's début album

      After having created a buzz with her female response to Dizzee Rascal's "I Luv U", the Grime artist Shystie made her début when she released "Diamond in the Dirt". The Hackney artist was quick to show the world that it wasn't just guys performing this new style of music and that the presence of females amongst it was just as worthy of mentioning. Acting as a Grime-based version of Ms. Dynamite, she goes in with the intension of drawing in the mainstream with a sound far-detached from what was heard in the work of Dizzee Rascal and Wiley prior to this time.

      As Grime was primarily an East London thing at the time, this North Londoner doesn't stick exclusively to just this. Shystie brings in more conventional UK Hip Hop together with basic Garage-derived Grime material in order to fill it out (as she seems incapable of doing it all in just one style). Along with this comes typical R&B stuff thrown into the mix for a full mix bag of what was going on in the new age UK urban market.

      Setting things off with a little spoken word, she quickly runs into the memorable lead single "One Wish", but from there it would appear that there's very little to worth looking out for. Things just don't seem right. It could be the misplaced Spanish guitar finds its way onto "Unfinished Business", or the extreme violence added on the "Armzhouse" bonus track; there are far too many contradictions and they all prevent the release from working as initially hoped. Shystie tries to go about things in a commercially-friendly way some of the time, but then switches this one its head when she takes things down the darker routes.

      She may go hard on the bouncy "Step Bac", but even there it sounds like it's a bit of a struggle make her flows work over on the raging beats which Fireworkz lays out for her. This seems to parallel "Bank Robbery" later on where there's a lot of energy, but the actual content really isn't anything special at all. It seems very shout-y, and it sounds as though that's all she thinks that sound is actually about. With "Can't Play", she triple-times the rhymes. It sounded as though she was just about managing to fit it in the bars and although she may think its impression to raps so quickly, it doesn't seem to serve any real purpose at all.

      Although there may be a lot of negatives to pick-out, the delightful "Woman's World" is a stand-out piece on the album. With production which draws from early eighties Electro-Hop ("Planet Rock" style) there she has the opportunity to reverse gender roles and comes up with one of the few infrequently triumphs of the release. It seemed as though she only really ever had a few ideas which worked and that she tried far too hard to push it all upon the listeners.

      Overall, this isn't an album I'd recommend. As Ms. Dynamite couldn't even pull things off with "A Little Deeper", someone much more under-the-radar is much less likely to have pulled it off. This is just the case here. Although Shystie may centre things much more so on the actual fast-paced rhyming born out of 2-Step Garage, this doesn't actually make her better at it. She seems as though she focuses far too much upon this and it gets tiresome quickly. In addition to this, her prevalence in the rapping field undermines any attempts to make other styles work and so the album sounds like a bit of a mess. It's no surprise she didn't ever release any further material after this and turned to acting as this really isn't all that promising.


      1. "Intro"

      2. "One Wish" **Two Stars***

      3. "Gutter" **Two Stars**

      4. "Step Bac" **Three Stars**

      5. "Woman's World (Gurlz Stand Up)" **Four Stars**

      6. "Questions (Game Show)" **Two Stars**

      7. "Make It Easy" **Two Stars**

      8. "Unfinished Bizzness" **One Star**

      9. "Bank Robbery" (feat. Ron E. Redeyez) **One Star**

      10. "Get Loose" **One Star**

      11. "Can't Play" **Two Stars**

      12. "Somedayz" (Interlude)

      13. "Somedayz" **Two Stars**

      --Bonus--

      14. "Armzhouse" **Two Stars**

      15. "Juiced" **Two Stars**

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