ALBUM REVIEW: Pooh Shiesty, Shiesty Season
Memphis native, Pooh Shiesty, the latest member of Gucci Mane’s The New 1017 label, presents his debut commercial tape Shiesty Season, a lackluster survey of familiar territory, coated with the fingerprints of his new label and its predictable expectations.
Shiesty started gaining buzz in 2019 after showing out on a slew of singles that eventually piqued the interest of the clone himself, Sir Gucci-Guwop-Mane. If you listen to these songs you’ll immediately understand why. “Hell Nigh” is a lean, catchy beat that lets Shiesty’s signature flow freely bounce all over the track. The song’s mix elevates Shiesty’s vocals above the beat, allowing his bars to boom and echo through your headphones. It’s raw, and fits well with the rapper’s grim swagger.
Shiesty and Guwop are not a bad pairing. Far from it. In the bars department, Shiesty has clearly learned a lot from the Atlanta rapper turned mini mogul. Shiesty’s slick flow has an Atlanta swag that the original Gucci pioneered long ago. This combined with his talent for melody and clever hooks reminds me of what a young Gucci would sound like in 2021. Yet it is this very pairing that I suspect is responsible for much of the predictability that is all over this project.
The evidence is ultimately in the work. The album comes in at a runtime of about 49 minutes split amongst 17 tracks. The album starts off strong with a solid intro track fittingly dubbed, “Shiesty Season Intro.” From the rip you can hear the sonic upgrade that Shiesty has received since signing his deal. The beat is clean, polished, professional, and Shiesty devours it with his wavy flow, setting the tone for the project. Nothing to really hate on here but also nothing new. You’ll begin to notice that theme.
The next track is probably the best and most popular song, the single, “Back in Blood" (feat. Lil Durk). This is where the perks of Shiesty’s deal really begin to bear fruit. The track is simple, a minor arpeggiated piano, some cool guitar sparkle, 808’s and lots of kick drum. The classic Shiesty formula with some professional polish and care. Durk provides a great contrast to Shiesty’s silky flow, punctuating the track with some raw, no-auto Durk, and giving us one of the most fun lines of 2021, “Pooh Shiesty that’s my dog, But Pooh you know I’m really shiesty.” This song is a complete banger and will put you in a deliciously evil mood.
Unfortunately, it’s after “Back in Blood” that you begin to realize that no song on this album will come close to being as much fun as the lead single, and the flaws of this project begin to reveal themselves. The next six songs are a mixed bag, some being better than others. “Guard Up” is a painfully tired take on the guitar sample trend started by artists like Lil Baby and Gunna, but completely lacking any of the novelty or originality. Despite this, Pooh actually manages to create a catchy hook, and even makes some playful decisions with his flow. However, these choices are not enough to save this song from itself, and the lack of creativity put into the most fundamental elements. Ultimately this feels like a miscalculation on the part of the label team, and an attempt to capitalize on popular trends.
The next song “Ugly” is a highlight in the sense that it’s the only track that boasts a Gucci feature and allows Pooh to spar with his mentor. The beat has the familiar Shiesty sound, with a lot more polish and a mix that no longer elevates Shiesty’s vocals and results in a less than evil sound. This is a criticism that carries across many of the songs on this album. The elements that make a Shiesty song appealing are all there, but without the consideration of the nuance like the mix that truly create the effect.
Another standout track is “Making a Mess” a malevolent, stripped down beat reminiscent of something we’d hear out of O-Block circa 2013. This song boasts the most fun hook of the album. It’s syncopated as fuck, crammed into the 8 bars of the chorus, threatening to spill out of its confines. This contrasts well against Pooh’s easy cadence, giving the track a sense of character and deadly swag.
With a responsibility to sell records now that he’s signed, this album feels like an attempt to please all audiences; a general vibe. For most people, it will succeed in doing so, but for Shiesty fans, I wonder how much replay value this project will have. Overall, this record feels like a typical assortment of club ready trap inspired songs, with an emphasis on expanding Shiesty’s audience and scope.