Shawn Jackson, Brand New Old Me
Shawn Jacksonâ€™s second album riffs on underground striver themes: surviving the mean streets of â€œLah City,â€ toking on â€œpurple swishas,â€ taking â€œStarget Practice,â€ and going on â€œT!LT.â€ The beats explore well-worn niches, too, from K-Salaam & Beatnickâ€™s Kanye-styled chipmunk soul (â€œGood Writtensâ€) to Beat Maker Beatâ€™s future soul funk (â€œIzichuâ€). The L.A. rapper negotiates these paths with aplomb, but his lyrics often reveal a disarming vulnerability. On the title track, he admits, â€œLately Iâ€™ve been living with this monkey on my back/ Put my soul into the music but no money for the tracks.â€ Jackson has a nice flow, but he may have trouble standing out amidst the blogosphereâ€™s mass of rappers that have also mastered the technique of rhyming, if not necessarily the trickier art of songwriting. Brand New Old Me presents his modest strides forward in the latter department.