North London rapper Shay D recently released her highly anticipated debut studio album, entitled A Figure Of Speech. With a background in youth rap workshops and spoken word events, on her new record, she transitions into the recording world exhibiting strong hip-hop sensibilities, demonstrating pure honesty, social commentary and an opinionated, charismatic presence.
Opening with “The Who, What, Why”, Shay D kicks off her debut LP with intelligence and thought-provoking content. She outlines her pacifistic, anti-commercialist views over a beautifully subtle Charirman Maf production; the Cambridge producer impressed last year with his instrumental album Soup and it’s good to see his talents being showcased on a wider scale. The title track, “A Figure Of Speech”, keeps up the traditional hip-hop vibes, and Shay D touches on subjects ranging from sexism, celebrity culture and feminism, exhibiting a powerful, passionate delivery whilst switching up her flows.
Shay is precise and punctual on “Keep Your Head Up High”, produced by Hackney musician Jimmy Logic, and her percussive delivery and melodic delivery is entertaining and thoughtful. The writing is always open and honest, with an overwhelmingly positive message running through the course of A Figure Of Speech.
“F The Radio” shows off Shay D’s witty punchlines, and it’s nice to hear her lighten the mood on the first verse of the track. She also gives more honest insight into her family life and views on her community, and judging by the title of the song, she’s not worried about any potential harm tackling the topics she does, will have on her sales or popularity. That’s a good thing, in fact a great thing, but her flow sounds a little rough and loose on the second verse, to the point where there are noticeable flaw in her flow patterns.
“I Love It” is one of the best tracks on the project; raw energy and attitude from the North London MC are delivered with grit and intent over a hard-hitting, crisp beat produced by Chris Prythm. On the sinister “Bad Boy”, Shay D shows her storytelling skills, spelling out a vividly clear warning to those who are attracted to the street life, and admire and glamorise that path. Shay’s political slants are definitely in abundance on this project, but she sounds genuine and passionate, even if the messages do start to become a little heavy and repetitive.
The menacing “Brick City”, which features a subtle, atmospheric production courtesy of Cappah, changes the vibe in a major way. With a more aggressive sonic environment, Shay D’s confident and forceful delivery is captivating, as she drops more knowledge and scathing social analysis. Again though there are moments when her flow isn’t as tight as it could be, and it does regrettably detract from the overall impact of the otherwise dope tune.
“Daddy Diaries” is another deep and heartfelt track, and Shay does a remarkable job of combining lyrical skill and decisive deliveries, infusing her content with drama and important narratives. Shay finishes the LP with “Evaporate”, and the chilled, tranquil Jimmy Logic provides an ethereal backdrop to A Figure Of Speech’s finale.
Shay D has definitely carved out her own lane; she’s leading the way for other conscious female rappers to get their music out there, but in a time where the mainstream are consuming materialistic, egotistical rap music faster and in higher quantities than ever before, it’s refreshing to hear an MC (regardless of gender) so dedicated in providing thought-provoking lyricism.
Sure she needs to iron out a few creases in terms of her technical delivery; some of the flows are a little rugged, and this does create a small concern for those looking for finely crafted pure rap ability, but the content can’t be criticised. Shay D is speaking the truth on this one. Shay D’s A Figure Of Speech is out now, purchase it on Bandcamp here.
Words by Sam Bennett