It feels wrong, though, to call this a ‘debut’ record because it doesn’t sound like a first-try. Official debut, or not, House Shoes is not new. He released the now treasure-hunted Jay Dee Unreleased EP (1996), and Phat Kat’s classic Dedication to the Suckers (1999) on his own imprint. He’s produced for the late Big Proof (D12), J Dilla, Elzhi, and Danny Brown. He’s DJ’ed for Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, Mayer Hawthorne, Slum Village, and too many more to list.
Technically, however, this is his debut LP. One that hip-hop ‘know-somethings’ have been asking for (for years). One he’s probably been holding on to for a while. One he’s finally letting go.
Let It Go, features two discs. The first is a full-length album boasting features by the ‘heavyweights’ and the ‘hungry’ alike, balanced between artists accustomed to hip-hop limelight, and those still chasing it.
The project bats with a heavy-handed Motown roster. Detroit-bred collaborators include Big Tone, Moe Dirdee, Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, and Danny Brown, among others. Los Angeles (Oh No, MED, The Alchemist, Co$$), Norfolk (Nottz), St. Louis (Black Spade), New York (Roc Marciano), and Chicago (Chali 2na, of Jurassic 5) pinch-hit throughout the project.
The second disc houses the instrumental versions from the record. It showcases the claps, snares, kicks, and soul-filled samples that House Shoes plates for Let It Go (and that might be overlooked next to the features, otherwise).
Songs like ‘Dirt feat. Greneberg’ (Oh No, Alchemist, Roc Marciano) and ‘Everything (Modern Family) feat. Fatt Father’ are tough to picture on the same project if listened to separately. In the context of Let It Go, however, they feel blood related and well placed. Shoes delivers an album that sound like an album (and not a mixtape) – no small feat in the topography of today’s music. He blends the songs, instrumentals, and interludes into a sequence that sounds like they all belong to something bigger than their time stamp and signature. Individually, the songs are strong, soaked in that neck-snapping, gritty-drummed, trouble-water-soulsampled thing that makes hip hop magnetic. To dissect the album into its parts would miss the point, though.
The triumph of Let It Go is the full hour of music, not any fraction of the 60-some-minute run time.
Track List Disk One 1. Let It Go feat. Shafiq Husayn 2. Empire 3. Goodfellas To Bad Boys feat. Moe Dirdee 4. Dirt feat. Greneberg (Oh No, The Alchemist, and Roc Marciano) 5. Time feat. Big Tone 6.Crazy feat. Black Milk and Guilty Simpson 7. Last Breath feat. Nottz, Oh No, and MED 8. Keep On feat. Co$$ aka Cashus King 9. Sweet feat. Danny Brown / Noodles 10. So Different feat. Chali 2na / Moody Interlude 11. Everything (Modern Family) feat. Fatt Father 12. Sunrise feat. Black Spade 13. Trouble feat. Moe Dirdee and MarvWon 14. Nails feat. Quelle Chris and Guilty Simpson 15. Castles (tHE SKY IS OURS) feat. Jimetta Rose 16. Cry Now 17. Roller Coaster feat. Self Says and Fat Albert Einstein 18. Empire Reprise feat. Sam Beaubien of Will Sessions (Bonus Track)