“Street Lights And Concrete” (previous review)
Packin Bags (Spotify)
Shawn Guala officially released his Packin Bags project at the tail end of last month. It comes in a couple of different versions. Those willing to support indie talent with a purchase can get a hard copy of the mixtape or a USB by hitting up Shawn. The tape contains about 13 total tracks and Mr. Guala is offering a few extra goodies on the USB. Otherwise, people can catch a condensed or album version of the collective on streaming services such as Spotify. The LP is a few tracks shorter than the tape. Since streaming is more readily accessible to the people, The Illixer decided to cover the amended version.
“Savage” F/ Capon4
The production here is smooth. The low key bass-line, stylish background elements, measured tempo, and club style vibe fit graciously together. The hook is catchy. The vocals are the clean and the lyrics are mature. The verses are adequate. The flows are standout, the wordplay is colorful, and the rhymes are of a grown & sexy nature. The fellas paint a very vivid picture of their idea of how a true ‘savage’ gets down when it comes to the ladies. A highlight from their exploits includes: “Two b—hes in the back seat kissing. Wishing I was in the back seat with them. I got one b—h going down my denim saying baby I just hope that you can fit in. Give me that Cognac sipping, sneaky Puerto Rican that be slick with the speaking. Got somebody baby mamas getting freaking up inside the Chevy for the weekend.” Those are some playerish opening bars right there. Overall, this is a fly single and a keen way to kick off the collective.
“Ballad Of The 3 Kings” F/ RA, Son Em’ All
This track opens with a brief heartfelt message. The production here is likable. The strong base, complimentary supporting details, unhurried gait, and sobering vibe match up nicely. The hook is compelling. The vocals are distinctive and the lyrics are substantial. The clips tie in well to the underlying aura of the instrumental. The verses are stirring. The trio utilize orderly flows, thoughtful wordplay, and purposeful rhymes. They give the listener enlightenment, encouragement, and just an all around sense of fulfillment. Absorb as Son Em’ All relays: “It’s more wealth in any book than fancy jewelry and cars. Used to spit this deep years ago. It fell on deaf ears. The genre’s full circle. Look at that, I’m still here. I son ’em all but name a teacher here that can’t be taught. My highest price is in the clouds. Admit I can’t be bought. (…) If education can guide us to higher ground than why do educated people fire all the rounds? If something ever block you, do your best to shake it gracefully. The spoils of any war is to the warriors fighting patiently.” One can not deny the power contained within those lines right there. As a whole, this record is a gem as well as a site favorite.
“Big Dreams” F/ Marisela Cruz
The production here is gratifying. It is made up of: a level foundation, discreet musical ingredients, a magnetic rhythm, and a down to earth vibe. The hook is sufficient. The vocals are solid and the lyrics are becoming. The verses are respectable. Shawn Guala offers up a proper flow, suitable wordplay, and story-telling style rhymes. He does a good job of breaking down the way life plays out when it comes to struggling and dream chasing. An example of which includes: “Remember days I ain’t look so nice. When you broke, nobody wants you right? But when that money come, man they swear you tight. Asking for some change trying to pay they lights. But it’s alright. I ain’t really tripping ’bout how many people fake inside. Put me in the ring if I have to fight. I just wanna know if I’m a bleed in the after life. So if it ends tonight, I’m good. Telling people I made it out my hood. Took a little time. Gotta grind all that you could.” Those are some very relatable true to life bars right there. All in all, this is a legitimate offering.
**My Two Cents: Shawn Guala gives us a nice set of musical luggage with his Packin Bags collective. I’ve heard the tape as well as the album versions and I am a fan of both. The number of guest artists is a little high but otherwise I have no major complaints. The production is all spot on. Plus, Shawn delivers some choice content. I like the diversity in the theme & style of the tracks too. Always good for an artist to switch things up throughout a project. I think readers should definitely give the effort a chance. Shawn’s Twitter link can be found above for anyone who wants a hard copy of the work. -MinM