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Shadow D "Language Is Fatal" (self-released)

Imagine the son of a Black Panther who talks like he's playing hooky from a Bay Area private school. Now imagine him rolling up on a gothed-out skateboard. Virginia State University student and local rapper Shadow D appears most comfortable in tracks suitable for the subway platform, while his lyrics show a penchant for the bare-knuckled consciousness attributed to the likes of the Dead Prez and old-school prophet of rage Paris.

In cuts such as "Purgatory" and "Demons and Angels," Shadow D's swagger borrows heavily from the blistering Immortal Technique when he flirts with the imagery of the occult the way most rappers reach for fail-safe gun talk. 9/11 conspiracy rantings and damnation of the government's apathy crackle in songs like "Hell's Abyss," in which the edge and growl of the delivery are on point. Other times, when the lyrics fall behind or rush ahead of the beat (as in "I'm Not Nice"), it feels as though the kid was hurrying to finish tracks.

Shadow D gives the impression that this is what a pissed-off black kid, wrestling with an unfailingly correct pronunciation of words, sounds like when raising a rap career out of the demo stage. With a higher quality of production, Shadow D could indeed become, as he says in "I'm Not Nice," "everyone's enemy" and a "pencil's best friend." S

To purchase "Language Is Fatal," contact Devin Owens at (202) 330-7024.

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