Huli Shallone: It’s My Turn
Huli Shallone may be the most visible local MC we know absolutely nothing about. It’s My Turn came out about six months back, and a review was held off in favor of trying to get a writer to profile the man—but neither he nor his manager responds to calls or voice mails. And with an album steady-pumping out local radio jams this far into its release, Shallone apparently doesn’t need the publicity.
“Give It Up” is the latest Shallone to get rotation on 92Q playlists, and it’s a pristine example of what the former Nature’s Problem MC does so well. Over a sparse, casual swing peppered with an awkward keyboard line—no producer credits here—Shallone struts his considerable game. He has a smooth, gliding bark, like a Petey Pablo without the sore throat. It’s a voice that projects a chill vibe, as if Shallone’s street smarts are the gifts of gab rather than physical intimidation. And he’s not going to mess around with metaphor; you don’t have to read between the lines to know what he wants given up: “I ain’t trying to dance/ I’m trying to get up in them pants.” He sells this same-old with a confident, sleepy-eyed charisma bobbing atop a track that boasts more hooks than the entire Hellraiser series.
It’s a local-jam formula that It’s My Turn nails five, six, seven, eight times through its 20-song run. Local R&B honey Paula Campbell provides the sexy oooooooohhhhs and chorus to club banger “Work That Body,” a five-alarm fire powered by nothing but a club-drum kick, handclaps, and whistles. “Smooth Criminal” hot-wires a fat-bodied ’80s keyboard bass line to a skeletal drumbeat, an ideal backdrop to one of Shallone’s sharpest ego trips here (“I’m a soldier, you’re a bitch, boy, stick to rap/ Or get your feelings hurt running with gangsta’s clowns/ I’m giving niggas permanent homes underground”). The chorus twists B Rich’s “Whoa Now” call and gives it a callously gully response: “Uh-oh, there he go/ slick-pop, hand-cocked smooth criminal/ that came from this spot to the roughest in the ghetto.” The remix of “This My Hood” turns an already ominous cut into an ever creepier trunk-rattling anthem, a claustrophobic hall of chanting voices and kidney-punching horn blasts. And a strobe of techno-fied breaks and synth fades percolate just behind Shallone’s athletic spitting on the fragmented menace of “Got It Like That.” It’s My Turn didn’t arrive with the same street-level fanfare of Bossman’s debut, but half a year later Huli Shallone’s still tosses out the singles that Law and Order didn’t have.