Verdict = Best hip hop of 2008
Shapeshifters provides modern urban literature at its finest. Llana Weaver or Invincible as she has dubbed herself, acheives a sort of Woolfian androgyny that propels her work into a realm free of the patriarchal grips of a largely misogynistic art form. Stylistically, Invincible’s flow owes a lot to Talib Kweli in both tenor and speed and subject matter; however, lyrically she manages to top Kweli in both consistency and depth which speaks volumes about the weight of her lyrics because to call Kweli’s lyrics low in either of the afore mentioned categories is hip hop blasphemy. Shapeshifters is just that good. Invincible is invincible due in part to her approach. Rather that taking the road most easily traveled for emcees – speaking about themselves – Invincible addresses people, more specifically the people of Detroit. Detroit has long been the central scene of social dissolution, so it is only appropriate that Shapeshifters contain a sharp social critique. Invincible is the perfect voice to attack injustice from every aspect: class, sex, race, gender. It is an overwhelming discourse and the most amazing part is that Invincible manages the discussion without a hint of the peachiness that her topics inherently imply. Shapeshifters isn’t just lyrics though; the beats here underscore the aural mentality of the message. With production credits from Black Milk, Waajeed, LabTechs, House Shoes and Belief, Ivincible is in good hands. Each producer lays unassuming working class beats that find strength in their spare, classically urban air. I still don’t claim to have my finger on the pulse of hip hop, but this is definitely the best hip hop album I have heard this year and worth a listen for anyone looking for substantial content in their hip hop rather than the standard bells, whistles and fluff.