Jeff Fresh delivers a tropical take on hip-hop with the inspirational storytelling of “Shadow Black”. Aspirational and full of hope, the songs have a great deal of life that flows through them. His flow feels highly unique for he knows when to strip things down to the essentials as well as to when to blow out that sound to become virtual anthems. Stylistically rooted in hip-hop, specifically of the southern hip-hop variety, he incorporates some of his own background, the duality of growing up in the United States and Haiti, into the flow. This means beyond the usual, he brings in island sounds, Afrobeat, and the heavy hit of trap.
References abound throughout the whole of the album as he makes it personal. On the heavier tracks, he takes a page from Maxo Kream’s highly personal vision. Going for the hybrid of styles there’s a bit of Outkast’s undeniable soulfulness that enters into the equation as well. For some of the most deeply moving and sheerly physical sounds, he even brings a bit of Fela Kuti’s sense of pure bliss and wonder into the proceedings. However, the way he frames these many different elements remains uniquely his own.
A sense of pure swagger runs through the bombastic beats of the opener “Whaddup” where he sets the tone for what follows. Pure luxury comes into the fray on the nimble “Six Figure” as he lets the song pop with bursts of color. Trap reigns supreme on the playful “Dollar Sign$ (feat. Gigi)” for the wordless choir offers nods towards old-school rap. Pure gleeful abandon takes hold on the party-starting pleasures of the aptly named “Clothes Off”. “We Are Gods” has a languid tempo to it for the piece serves as one of the highlights of the album. Heavy reflections emerge on the tragic “Neighborhood”. Clear-eyed intensity takes hold with “Focus (feat. Akari)” as the verses cascade down in beautiful shimmering patterns. Things get stripped down to the essentials on the tense “Shine”.
“Ayiti Cheri” has a gentle demeanor to it, with the lilting melodies wafting up into the air. Heavy bass weighs a ton on “Tippin”. The Caribbean spirit is strong on the giddy energy of “Sex Me (feat. Tha Goat)”. The dramatic scope of “Capitol Hill Freestyle” captures the zeitgeist of the times, with all the wild weirdness that this present moment provides. Infinitely infectious “What’s Mine (feat. Juke)” has a motivational message behind it. Highly addictive “Gooyad” has a hypnotic pulse within it as there is something transformational about the sound. Great details matter on the brilliant, thoughtful “Can’t Sit Wit Us”. Pure adrenaline rushes through the chaotic atmosphere of “Triple R (Real Recognize Real)(feat. Chief 3rd Basedame)”. Neon-hued splendor closes things off on a high note with “Freshville”.
“Shadow Black” revels in a sense of boundless opportunity for Jeff Fresh overcomes all obstacles to find a sense of enlightenment and to emphasize that purpose with pure poetry.