The rap duo known as Shaheed and DJ Supreme aren’t playing games with their loyal following in the new single “Skates & Crates,” and describing the chemistry that they share in its brief running time as off-the-charts-level excellence doesn’t do it justice. We start with a swagger that suffocates us in the form of a blustery bass.
Slowly but surely, the rhythm of the song wraps around us, constricting tighter and tighter, until we reach the smoking chorus. Out of the ashes of a minimalistic front, the melody of the instrumentation in the backdrop floods the track with a supple depth that will leave even the most discriminating of rap fiends begging for more this month. Relentlessly rhythmic and stocked with a host of textured grooves, “Skates & Crates” is a heavy-hitter that sees its star players firing on all cylinders and dispensing an anthemic song that has the potential to increase their fan base exponentially.
The lyrics have a slick nature and fit in with the natural moodiness of the music explicitly well, but there’s no argument to be made as to whether or not we’re supposed to be paying attention to the collective track as opposed to the verses alone. We never feel like we’re listening to a dirge that’s been retooled as a slow jam here; instead of placating us with a lot of predictable themes, Shaheed and DJ Supreme treat us to an honest lyricism spiked with a vulnerability that is much more than just a cut above the status quo.
The conceptualism that these two are toying with in this track is hopefully just a taste of what’s to come in the future work they queued up for release in the year ahead, and if it is indeed representative of what those beats have in store for us, then I have a feeling that this is only the first of many headlines that this collaborative project is going to be making as the year comes to pass.
2023 is barely in full swing this February but “Skates & Crates” is definitely among the very best material that I’ve heard out of the rap underground through the past couple of months. It’s got enough of a polish to appeal to the mainstream hip-hop scene but bears an independent ethos that influences its finer points enough to where I can see it being just as much of a smash hit with fans of the underground sound as well.
There have been so many rappers and producers on both sides of the dial dabbling in elements of melodicism and pop songwriting, but I don’t know that this pair has to do that for people to see and hear how relevant an act they can be when there’s nothing to slow them down in the recording studio. They’ve had their hands in a lot of credible content over the years as two players on the international level, but if you ask me, this is some of the more charismatic work that they’ve turned in to date.