Soul in music is as essential as a tempo, and Jackie Shane has more than enough soul to go around for the massive, twenty-five track re-issue of her cult classic Any Other Way. The woman was a visionary in music for her immaculate vocal range and impressive stage performances, but also for being one of the pioneers for transgender artists everywhere. Shane could transform a room into a lightshow of frantic dancing and movement-inducing rock, but then take the sound to a halter and illustrate a true sense of craftsmanship.
From the sudden count off on “Sticks and Stones”, the opening sending anthem from Jackie Shane that is as rambunctious as it is tight musically. The band that jams behind her is smooth, mixed with her impressive voice creates a recipe for perfection. The two entities work together to create instrumental sections of horns that cast large shadows, but never large enough to overpower Shane as she uses her own attitude to fuel the vocal aspect of Any Other Way. It is the sudden jump into the deep end that floods the listener with images of dance halls being grooved to the sound of Shane as she would dress like royalty and deliver a show like no other performer at the time. The rhythm transposes Shane to new heights and through Any Other Way, there is a sense of immense growth throughout the record. It is constantly twisting and turning to become something fresh and interesting at every turn.
The transitions featured on Any Other Way are displays of Shane’s sense of adaptability, as the following self-titled track, “Any Other Way” starts to subtle shuffle into frame, Shane is soft-spoken and acts as a gem in this whirlwind of rainy day sound. The horns are well proclaimed and the percussion takes a step back, letting Shane’s vocals be the centerfold of the track and this is the catalyst for the record to gain its wings and soar. Jackie Shane is such an interesting character both on and off the record, and her mystique is also present in her lyrical style as she explains through sometimes double, or triple-meanings for a glance into her own personal journey.
Her lyrics tell a story, and the instrumentation is so memorable that even after just a single listen, tracks like “In My Tenement”, “Comin’ Down”, “Walking The Dog”, or even “Money (That’s What I Want)”, have incredible catchiness to them. Especially on “In My Tenement” where the grooving instruments are suddenly shining through the darkness of the lyrical themes, but then shifts to showcase a focus on just how Jackie Shane can illustrate a sense of duality in her sound. It can be both depressed, but also full of life and Any Other Way, while being a double album, never shows a sense of acted as too long. The tracks flow well into each other and the new light that is placed on Jackie Shane is well-deserved.
Any Other Way is a delightful showcase of emotional prowess that is transfused into the heart and soul of music. Jackie Shane gives her rhythm a backbone and illustrates a sense of power behind her voice, standing tall among the greats while never casting a large shadow. A cult favorite that shows years after recording Initially, that Jackie Shane can still groove with the heavyweights of music.
Band Submission // Listen Here – Soundcloud
DJ Subroc and Zev Love X were members of the rough cut crew, Kausing Much Damage, or better known formally as KMD. The group was prevalent in the 1990s for their abrasive style of taking their African-American backgrounds and putting them as the foregrounds of their music. It is the reasoning behind their styling’s that led to the shelving of their second studio record, Black Bastards. With the lynched “Sambo” on the front and the depiction of the “BL_CK B_ST_RDS” being labeled underneath in a hangman style, there was enough to shock the record label, along with the heavily sampled use of race-focused clips of movies that explain the modern use of the word nigger, it was hidden from public eye.
Subroc and X made a killer combination that had few ups-and-downs through the recording process and illustrated a real sense of talent behind their craft. They were able to seamlessly blend the lines of harsh and ugly racism with banging hip-hop beats and rhymes that reflected like a mirror on the wall of America and the systematic racism that both parties faced. It is truly where the racism is showcased as where KMD shows their blades and can capitalize on the real awareness of the past. The first track, “Garbage Day #3” is a skit that displays multiple samples that explain how destructive KMD was at the time, and how ominous they were, “Hey you guys should let the cops handle it, if you fight these guys, you’re gonna up in jail,” the instrumental then shifts suddenly into a prejudice territory, “’You black bastards,’…’alright blackie you win,’…’Fuck you nigger’…” it continues to showcase just how ugly the word is and the act of racism that separates and cuts through the instrumental, as a point of explaining just how jarring the systematic and cultural normality’s were at the time and still are. The sampling is perfect however, and X explained that “Sub(roc) did the beat and all the vocal samples. He just happened to stay up all night one time and recorded most of those movie things on there”.
It would be the sampling that would carry the instrumentation and storytelling to new heights with a focus on demonstration through sound. It is a perfect arrangement of just how KMD was an underground hip-hop group that flew under the radar, but made waves with the creation of a sense of healing, but also destruction through wordplay. It is on the following track, “What a Niggy Know?” that has KMD sampling Gylan Kain as he exclaims, “He was a nigger yesterday, he’s a nigger today, and he’s gonna be a nigger tomorrow”. Even as it strikes into a self-aware nerve, Zen Love X describes over a boom-bap styled instrumental, “Finna flip the script like round off summy, yummy to the tooth, bitter to the tummy. Helps keep that monkey shit constipated for me jimmy jimmy rummy”. X then passes the microphone as Subroc slides into frame and spits, “No curls, no braids but steel wood, with my ill style mad G’s I pull. I lay lower than a limbo stick, follow me quick or leave alone a jimbo stick”. It is a courageous nature that stands KMD as a monument in hip-hop history and that beings their work into the foreground with funky instrumentals, but a conscious message to what was happening around them as a social commentary.
It is shown well on the much later-track, “Plumskinnz (Oh No I Don’t Believe It)” where the cheerful instrumental could be used on an episode of something along the lines of Sesame Street, but the sudden bumping percussion that is featured behind the cascading pianos makes for a conflicting way of beauty behind the track. Zev Love X then comes in shortly and explains, “With the innocent fuzz from the peaches says the streets, down low on the down low. I know the right juice from the darkest fruits got roots, mind wandering, mind playin’ tricks”. The use of saxophone and different horns also adds an additional stylish grouping of sound behind KMD as they act as commanders of sound. It relies on the artistic extension of KMD’s DJ Subroc and Zev Love X as the two move like young leaders in the genre.
The unfortunate history of Black Bastards and dark past associated with the record let it never be released on a major label, but hip-hop’s master rhymer MF DOOM picked up the master tapes and eventually released the record years later. DOOM had involvement with the group as Zev Love X and his lyrical style can be showcased as it began to fly into fruition over the years of mastering the craft. DJ Subroc was unfortunately struck by a car back in 1993 where he was killed at the age of nineteen. This marked the end of KMD, but the beginning of hip-hop’s Supervillain.