TSOL is an excuse for us to overuse nostalgic phrases, and pushing down hard on the buttons of our memories. The pay-what-you-can release has him spitting over samples made (in)famous by everyone’s favorite bygone pop tunes: from that over-enunciated Milli Vanilli interlude, to that pitched down vocal on that Weezy song you used to love. With no particular tonal distinction, Shad touches each expertly sampled track with his throwback flow, with DJ T LO scratching and cutting his way into nearly every track.
“A Milli Vanilli” shifts between samples, back to Shad quite drastically, maintaining perfect cadence throughout, until a too-good-to-be-true interlude gives us a break. Certainly Melancholy‘s hardest track, the song includes some standout stanzas, “No you’re not pigs but the profiling’s hogwash.” It’s insightful without being street-corner crazy. This, along with grin-inducing introspection on “It Ain’t Over,” highlights the EP’s commercial sensibility, which doesn’t feel at all deliberate.
Never feigning identity or donning personas, Shad’s flow provokes and persists over every beat.
“New Don” and “Old Prince” both clock in slightly under two minutes, serving as the philosophical badge on Melancholy‘s lapel. “New Don” puts Shad’s social consciousness behind the wheel, (“How to make a rich Man buy?/ Make him feel poor”), while the rolling, eyes-down vibe flowing through “Old Prince” puts a ghoulish darkness on the release in the best possible way.
Shad’s consistency over this array of beats doesn’t necessarily feel like a deliberate showcase, because with a record this honest and this nostalgic, there’s no need to switch your style. Melancholy doesn’t care whether or not you hate, or if the money piles up. It cares about how it feels to maintain a standard of quality while exhibiting a sense of history that, whatever your feelings toward Milli or Vanilli, injects a certain swing back into the step of some forgotten memories.
How do you make a rich man buy? Present him with a stellar EP and give him the opportunity to support one of 2012’s best hip hop releases.