Review: ShayJToday Helps Us Love What Matters The Most In Val{You}

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In an age of the constant feed of redundant information, short attention spans and social media increasingly manipulating our desire for what we don’t have, we often are forgetting to hold value on ourselves.

ShayJToday reminds us on how to look inside and love what we have around us with his new album, Val{You}. The 13-track project takes us on a journey through a whole range of moods from introspection to social awareness while holding out as a pure fire piece of work!

My music is purely for those that are searching to evolve as an individual

Shay J introduces us to his theme with these words on the opening track, {Grow}Th while a moody bass line hums with the sounds of waves slowly transforms our mindset to latch on to the journey that the rapper is about to take us on.

A Player’s Confession straight away shows us the lyricism and topical issues that ShayJ is able to handle.

I never knew the damage I was doing
And the pain I left brewed in the women I’m pursuing
One day somebody told me love is pain
Never understood, but yet when time progressed it came

These completely honest bars compliment the theme of growing as a human as Shay J confesses that he didn’t know better and as he grows in age he also has grown in his personality.

These introspective themes of growth continue with Ghetto Geppetto, which was previously a landmark single for the Florida native. This track starts to highlight the skilful flow of the rapper as he shares experiences as a young one through the bounce of his bars.

The project soon takes a more subtle, smooth turn with tracks Natural Highs and Smooth Sailing sampling the Isley Brothers and Kool and the Gang respectively to offer a wavy, summertime beach vibe experience. Shay J’s UGK/Outkast inspired rhythm on these tracks really took my experience to the southern coast of US, I could really see the palm trees and feel the warm breeze.

Following the brief trip to the beach the finished after Day in a Life, the album hit me with some lyrical bangers in, Oral Dissertation, Rainy Nights in Atlanta and The Letter. Here the tempo of the bars and the beats match perfectly on LP with the southern flavoured boom bap seamlessly supporting the wordplay from Shay J.

As he treats her like one of them hoes up out the club
Tossing twenties to the stripper pole
But he never bought his girl some school clothes
I guess its the same story we all know…yo

These lines come from track 10, Lil’ Sistas, which is a refreshingly deep track about the hardships that many women have to face these days. It is rare to hear a track these days that talks of the point of view of women’s struggle. Shay J did a fantastic job of setting the scene of the stories of the women in Shay J’s life and offers reflection as the album starts to draw to a close. The reflectiveness of Shay J continues into Midnight Skeletons over a trippy, chopped beat that the artist rides over with ease.

The title track, Val{You} starts with Verb Williams’ proclamation over a clever Bob James sample.

There’s no promise in tomorrow
And time was invented
To measure a dimension of hope;
So what can you count on?

This verse does a fantastic job of summarising the message of the project. We are so indulged in man made processes, synthetic relationships and useless trends that our life in this form can be over just like that before we really have known ourselves.

Don’t let nobody tell you what you can’t do
Let them haters play the fool
And show love even when it hurts
And keep god first before you reach this universe

Shay J wraps up the mission with these final bars before grandma, Alice Rolle shares what she values the most, which she unhesitatingly states is her children and her grandchildren. This was a fitting way to close the extremely moving project as it shows that after the dust clears, all that matters is those close to you.

This album manages to balance social and lyrical content with catchy and well produced production. There is no compromise anywhere in this album from the beginning as Shay J completely stays on track with his message of staying true and growing. I look forward to hearing this album even more in the new year as I can tell it’s one of those where you still pick up new points on when in different moods and in different situations.

Val{You} is available now on all major download and streaming services. Keep up with ShayJToday on Instagram.

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