Consider the albums you dug on in the past. Most of them had a unique or urgent sound, sometimes both. Detroit native (though the soul of Motown still inhabits his musical endeavors, he now resides in L.A.) House Shoes’ name has rung bells with just that kind of urgency throughout the 313 area code since the early 90’s. Shoes’ handiwork has been heard on projects with Proof, Phat Kat and Elzhi–but who knew his MP game was this tight.
One can readily hear Dilla’s tutelage in House Shoes’ selections, chops and filters. Take the masterful “Time” where Steve Miller is re-interpreted to mind-expanding effect; Yes, the song sampled is beyond the point of familiarity but when you re-imagine something so effortlessly…well, that’s about as good as hip-hop gets. Jermaine Jackson’s “Castles Of Sand” gets the black belt chop treatment on “Castles (The Sky Is Ours)” and while Jimetta Rose’s vocals are almost unnecessary, the track soars to places hip-hop rarely goes these days. A couple of these beats were used on Quelle Chris’ semi-slept-on Shotgun & Sleek Rifle but most heads won’t mind hearing them again.
Lyrically, this album does not always rise to the superior production, but there are some excellent runs from well-known names and up-and-comers alike. Most of the mic work is handled by Detroit artists such as Guilty Simpson, Black Milk, Danny Brown and Fattfather. Obvious focus cuts are “Dirt” featuring Greneberg, “Crazy” with Black Milk and Guilty Simpson and “Last Breath” with Oh No and MED. There are also two lesser-known names that make splashes on this effort, Moe Dirdee and Black Spade.
In the end, this album has a listenable quality that so many releases are missing. Though something of a collaborative effort, it has a rare focused feel. House Shoes has served Detroit (and hip-hop) for decades and it’s only right the man gets his due. So hard to let shit go these days, but you ‘d do well to let go of a few hard-earned ducks for this release.
– M.F. DiBella