Sha Stimuli
My Soul To Keep
Chambermusik Records/E1 Entertainment

To be totally honest, I'm not sure why I bought this album. I didn't see a press release in any magazine. I didn't come across any promo material in the mail. I've definitely not heard any of his joints get played on the radio. Apart from a few verses I've heard him spit on guest appearances, Stimuli was a bit of a mystery to me. However, this past October, I handed over my hard earned sterling, came home, made a coffee, put the headphones on and zoned out.

Three months later, I can confidently say that in my opinion “My Soul To Keep” was the best debut album of 2009. Its been a while since I've heard such a potent amalgamation of passion, honesty, integrity, originality and pure unadulterated skill on one album. Stimuli proves that he is more than Lord Digga's little brother from the gate with the deliberate “My Soul” produced by Jaisu. Here he states his motives for making music when he says “there's diseases going round, fuck a record in rotation” and “my shit is hi-def and for me to like your shit I'd have to be high and deaf”. Its simple but witty lines such as these that takes Stimuli from being just a “good” emcee to a “great” emcee. The momentum continues on “Blasphemy” which provokes a fair bit of introspective thought. When I was growing up, I was taught that you should never question God. Stimuli obviously didn't get that message and on the track its as though he marches straight to the pearly gates, rushes the security and proceeds to give God a serious ear bashing. He gives God some evaluation points on how he should have dealt with racism by saying “we could've all been the same colour like The Smurfs, you don't think that would have worked?”. Funny but still deep.

Conceptually, this is a very dense offering and that goes beyond the usual guns, money and drug fare that we have become so exposed to in modern times. Stimuli tackles controversial and taboo subjects such as religion, absent fathers and even tells the story of a person in a wheelchair. Yes, there is a lot to think about on this album but there are also a couple of more light hearted moments that give you the straight head nod factor. Just Blaze provides the knocking back drop on the Freeway assisted “Move Back” which is definitely not a song for “The Champagne and High Heels Crew” as I like to call them. They will get stomped on if I see them when listening to this cracker. Stimuli flexes more of his story telling muscle on the laugh out loud “Smelly Cat Song”. I won't spoil the surprise here but let's just say Stimuli is BIG on hygiene and the object of his “affection” wasn't. This song proves that should Stimuli decide to leave the Hip Hop game, a future in stand up comedy may be on the cards.

Apart from a couple of tunes where the production just couldn't keep up with him, this really is a stellar album. They say you have your whole life to make your first album and after listening to “My Soul To Keep”, its glaringly obvious that Stimuli threw his whole being into this project with reckless abandon and crafted a beautiful piece of work as a result. I cannot recommend this album enough but you are doing yourself a disservice as a Hip Hop fan if you do not purchase this. Turn off the radio, ignore the television and close the newspaper because “My Soul To Keep” will take you places where you won't be needing those distractions. This is the real deal. - Reviewed by Christopher Mitchell


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