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Album review: TEARS, Shade Cobain

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Cover artwork for Shade Cobain's TEARS

After DiViNe SeVeN’s INTROSPECT LP last week, I am catching up with another release I have been meaning to tell you about for ages. Shade Cobain, who is among my favourite producers, dropped his latest project TEARS on August 15th, in collaboration with JiLLz Worth’s Them Fighting Words and the album is, once again, a must-have. Big shout out to iNanz for yet another amazing artwork. Now, let me tell you why you need some “TEARS” in your life…

Shade Cobain describes his latest album as “the musical memoir of a 365 day grind” and once again puts a lot of himself into the music, creating a very personal, yet universal project. As he presents different steps and phases in this constant struggle that life is, including highs and lows, he touches upon an element that is still quite taboo in our society. Indeed, it is quite rare to hear people admit to crying or see them do it openly. Those tears may be due to anger, frustration, sadness or even joy and you can feel all of those emotions in the music, as the producer once more found the perfect samples and blending of instruments to reflect what was on his mind and heart. I guess this is me being too sensitive and emotional again, but I did cry when I first listened to the project.
As usual, a great importance is given to drums, which are hard-hitting and will most probably give you a serious head-nod but we can also find a wide variety of influences and genres, giving TEARS a more global reach and making it more than a hip-hop project. Another of Shade Cobain’s trademarks is present here, that is the relevance of the titles, which always emphasise the feeling expressed in the instrumental and make the music speak as words would.

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Album review: Cobainish Theory, Shade Cobain

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As promised in the previous post, I will now tell you a bit more about Shade Cobain’s latest project. In case you missed it and if you need to get familiar with the ‘man of many theories’, have a look a my latest interview with the talented Pittsburgh-based producer. Now, without further delay, here are my thoughts on Cobainish Theory…

I have to admit I had rarely been that impatient to hear an album as I have been with Shade Cobain’s Cobainish Theory. After listening to the incredible Anti-Love Theory, I was really wondering what Shade would come up with on this new project. I had high expectations and those were not only met but clearly exceeded. The amazing producer seems to always grow and improve his craft and I can say this project is not only my favourite by him but probably his best so far. Also, it sounds like a mixture of his previous releases, but on a higher level. As he explained in the interview, “Cobainish Theory is a project that brings all of my other projects together. It’s a little bit of Cassette Theory, a dab of Anti Love Theory.” Shade Cobain is a very versatile producer who always loves to experiment and explore different sounds and this latest project brings all his influences and inspirations together, not only in terms of music but also when it comes to the feelings and themes he is touching upon. While Anti-Love Theory was dealing with love and some personal experiences, it still had a universal appeal and didn’t dig too deep into the producer’s own story. With Cobainish Theory, it seems like he went further and opened up a bit more, telling some of his story, presenting you his own ‘theory’. Also, his other project Cassette Theory was an ode to hip-hop, clearly focused on the culture and paying homage to the ‘golden era’. This spirit of hip-hop is obviously infused in the beats here but there is much more than that. Shade Cobain is not a hip-hop producer, he is making music, period. And that means he is weaving his music with many different sounds and genres, making it universal and original at the same time. Cobainish Theory is therefore a slice of Shade Cobain’s life, a way to get into his brain and heart, experience his feelings and relate to his thoughts.

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Interview: Shade Cobain


I think the only way for you never to have heard about Shade Cobain is to visit this blog for the first time. If that’s the case, I must advise you to do your research: first of all, check out my Musical Architect interview with the talented Pittsburgh-based producer. Then, discover his amazing projects: Cobainish Remixes Vol. 1, Cassette Theory Beat EP, Anti-Love Theory and Roy Porter’s Sound System: Beat Review EP. Now that you are up to speed, you can learn more about Shade Cobain, through the man himself… I am really thankful to him for taking some time to answer my questions. I also need to give a shout out to JiLLzWorth from Them Fighting Words for presenting all of Shade’s projects and to Nanlib aka iNanz for this amazing cover artwork. Get familiar!

First of all, for people who have never heard of you, could you introduce yourself? 

I’m Shade Cobain. Man of Many Theories and student of music. Coming from Pittsburgh, Pa. And represent TFW and NBSK!!

More and more people discover your music lately, and you now have supporters all around the world. How do you feel about this evolution in your career? 

I’m humbled by the love and support. I’ve never thought the music would spread so fast. It was a year ago, I was just trying to get a spark in my city. And just have people all over the world… DJ’s, promoters, bloggers, producers, and legends that I grew up listening supporting me… it’s a wild feeling, yet humbling.

When I first interviewed you, you didn’t have that many projects out, but in the meantime you released numerous EPs and collaborated with quite a few artists. You are actually incredibly creative and productive. What inspires you and keeps you going?

I challenge myself. Plus I have a creative and inspiring team around me. Which inspires me. So I just create. Learning new things within myself, then translating it through music.

You just released your latest album, entitled Cobainish Theory. How do you feel about this? And could you tell us a bit about this new adventure? 

I think Cobainish Theory is a project that brings all of my other projects together. It’s a little bit of Cassette Theory, a dab of Anti Love Theory. But with a little bit of maturity within sound. But it does tell a story of the past year. The experiences of acceptance, me being confident, and a bright future. I hope the listeners really get into this one and leave listening to it learning a little bit more about me.

All your projects are very different and you always create a new ‘Theory’, a new concept. Is it important for you to constantly evolve, to explore new ideas and sounds? 

Always!!! I don’t see it no other way. I’m a person who doesn’t just conform and settles in my real life. Constant elevation. So why would I do that to my sound… haha!!

Something else that is quite remarkable about your music is how personal it is, how you really pour your heart and soul into it. That was clearly noticeable with Anti-Love Theory but it seems like Cobainish Theory is also a way for you to express some of your experiences and feelings. Do you think it is becoming easier for people to be that open in hip-hop and music in general? And do you think people can relate to this level of honesty? 

Well that’s why I think people gravitate to my music, just because I am honest. But I feel some artists must stay true to themselves. The dollar at times makes the artist not allowed to be “open” or lose focus on who they are. But that’s when you as the person must remember why you are really doing music in the first place.

Thanks to social networks, you seem to have found many like-minded people and fellow music lovers who share the same energy and have the same creative vision as you do. Is it important for you to connect with people in this way and create a bridge with them, even when they live on the other side of the world? 

I feel like it’s the best way. I see some artists clown some artists by using Twitter as a main vehicle. Look!!! From one year, I was sending beat tapes to the artists in Pgh, to have well respected artists. Social Networking works. Plus it lets me be family with the ones who support! We are all a team!!

As I said earlier, you are always busy producing music, putting out projects and working on different collaborations. One of those is Varsity Squad, your group with Pittsburgh MCs Jon Quest and Beedie. The album is scheduled for this fall and you already released a few tracks. Could you tell us a bit about this new group? 

In a few words, THEY ARE MY FAVORITE GROUP, since Little Brother… enough said! Haha!! But they are two talented MC’s from Pittsburgh, that I’m blessed to work with.

You have also been performing recently, opening for ‘big names’ in Pittsburgh. How do you feel about those new experiences and would you like to tour in the US or maybe abroad? 

It’s dope! It gives a chance to put my face and sound to the “big names”. Well me and the TFW/NBSK team is in the works of starting one up in the future.

Anything else you would like to add? 

I love all the love and support from you Marion. You are an important part to the buzz of music and I appreciate that! God’s Peace

Now that you know Shade Cobain a bit more, it is time to discover his latest project, the amazing Cobainish Theory. I will most definitely tell you more about it in the very near future. But you can already get familiar and support!

Newness for your ears: Roy Porter’s Sound System Beat Review EP, Shade Cobain

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Cover artwork for Roy Porter's Sound System: Beat Review EP

I am usually attracted by music that makes me think, touches me or makes me curious (most of the time, all of those). As much as I love music, my knowledge and culture is very limited, which is something I’m always trying to change. Shade Cobain’s previous releases definitely made me feel good and touched me (in case you missed them, discover his Cassette Theory Beat EP and his beautiful Anti-Love Theory). He is a very versatile producer who always comes up with fresh and innovative ideas. You can’t say any of his projects are alike and that’s something I admire about him. This time, with this tribute to one of his favourite drummers Roy Porter, he presents a very interesting (if way too short) project that really made me curious. I listened to the EP a few times and then was prompted to do some ‘research’ on Roy Porter. I headed to YouTube to listen to some songs of the album and was immediately enchanted. I am far from being a specialist of jazz but I really appreciate this musical genre, which I am discovering in more depth, mainly thanks to artists using samples or referring to jazz classics and musicians. I need to thank Shade for allowing me to discover Roy Porter and his universe through this EP.

Coming back to the EP itself, it is obviously based on samples from Roy Porter’s Sound System: Inner Feelings but Shade adds his own touch and magic, giving a very modern twist to the originals while staying faithful to them. The result is an energetic and funky EP that will have your head nod and your feet want to make it to the dancefloor. The only thing I would have to object is the length of the project. It is indeed quite short and left me a bit frustrated. I would have wanted the music to go on forever and take me to a dreamland where worries disappear. But Shade is a busy man and he has been spoiling us with a lot of music this year so I won’t hold that against him. What I will do, on the contrary is keep listening to Roy Porter’s Sound System: Beat Review EP on repeat, as it is quite impossible to play it once, it is like some kind of addiction. It’s the kind of addiction I don’t want to be cured from though and I need to thank Shade once again for providing it.

You can get your fix as well by going to Shade Cobain’s Bandcamp (where you can also find his previous releases) or simply by clicking on the link below. Listen to it, download it and spread the word about it!

The EP is presented by Them Fighting Words, shouts to JiLLz Worth for the great work! You can find more goodies on the website

Album review: Anti-Love Theory, Shade Cobain

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Cover artwork for Anti-Love Theory

I already told you about Shade Cobain and his great talent, as well as his impressive levels of productivity in different posts, whether it was about personal projects (Cassette Theory Beat EP) or collaborations (production on Divine Seven’s LISTEN!!!, Jon Quest’s RAOJQ or Diverse’s upcoming MOALV3). He is back again, in association with Them Fighting Words, with a very interesting and original project that will most probably make you believe in love again, if you needed such encouragement. It was definitely the case for me! Here’s why…

Shade is a very talented producer who also has he ability and desire to explore different genres, to express himself in different ways and share his passion for music. This Anti-Love Theory doesn’t really sound like anything he has done before and this is definitely a great thing! What is obvious to me and something he underlines when talking about this project is how he put a lot of emotion in the music, which may be seen as almost taboo by certain people but which most certainly appeals to me and touches me. Music is always personal and subjective, it’s a way for artists to share thers ideas, thoughts and feelings, then allowing listeners to relate to them and realize they may have a lot in common with the artists. I won’t go into details but this project came out at a time where I was personally questioning life and love, a period of doubts and confusion which slowly evolved into a newly found faith and hope in this beautiful feeling that love is. And I have to say listening to it was part of the ‘healing’ process, something I can’t be but grateful for. Anti-Love Theory is a love story, from the very early stages of a relationship to the ‘end’, exploring all the different emotions one can go through and Shade is a musical story-teller, using vibrations and energy instead of words, but having a similar, if not stronger effect than a writer. From the Love intro/U luv me (Post-Like Syndrome) to the Love outro, we travel to a beautiful land thanks to the excellent and very rich productions which are made of many layers, encompassing a wide range of influences and tones. What is great is that even though the project is based on Shade’s personal experience, you can’t really but feel it tells about yours as well and I love this mixture of uniqueness and universality.

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