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Single Review: Shaheed and DJ Supreme “Skates & Crates”

Shaheed and DJ Supreme have been making amazing music as a duo for years, and with their combined skills as sharp as ever, they dish out their very material yet in “Skates & Crates,” a new single and video out this February. With their diverse backgrounds influencing the experimental nature of this song, Shaheed and DJ Supreme reveal an edgy side to their songcraft and espouse a creative wistfulness that is not found very often in their scene at the moment. The lyrics touch on simplicity, but the music is as smoke-stained and indulgent as it gets, centering on a surreal hook that forms the foundation for a gilded groove. “Skates & Crates” is a heavy song on all fronts, but features an angular finish that ties it more to the old-school world than it does anything in plastic-faceted modern rap.

The bass here is a sleeping giant that couldn’t be dismissed even if Shaheed and DJ Supreme had wanted it to be, but it’s nothing next to the subdued melody’s wallop. Though minimal beats have become even more commonplace in hip-hop today than they ever were in the 1980s, I haven’t heard many tracks that texturize their role in the narrative of the lyrics in the way that this song does from beginning to end. The arrangement is an emotive attribute in “Skates & Crates” as any of the instruments or even the vocal itself is, and somehow the music doesn’t feel evenly slightly over-the-top as a result. If Shaheed and DJ Supreme’s contemporaries could figure out how this pair performed such a difficult challenge, rap might become a little less stagnant than it is at the moment.

 

 

“Skates & Crates” stimulates us on numerous levels from the time that we press play to the very instant in which the music fades into the silence that it first emerged from. Shaheed and DJ Supreme have our attention immediately with the bassline and carefully dispatch the lyrics with just enough vigor that we’re able to appreciate all of the gusto in the colorful vocals. The instrumentation is just as huge an element, and even the master mix itself serves as an agent of evocation in this song; something that I haven’t personally experienced outside of the synth-wave sounds that a lot of lo-fi players have been turning into creative singles.

This new release from Shaheed and DJ Supreme makes for the perfect nocturnal listen following a night at the club dedicated to shredding the dancefloor or a chill evening spent in the smoking lounge just the same – the simple truth is that it’s centered on chill. It’s extremely rare for a song to suit different occasions, but to be fair, there’s nothing typical about “Skates & Crates” or the performers behind its thrilling tone. Shaheed and DJ Supreme are going to release more new music in 2023, and if they get enough of a positive reception, I hope that they consider making a proper album a lot sooner than later. They’ve got the chops to make a full LP out of songs like this one, and as a fan of good hip-hop, I don’t feel the least bit greedy in asking for as much.

 

Kim Sullenberger

 

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