All Day DeShay: AM
What do Pokémon, Life Alert (yeah, the necklace that saves the lives of the elderly) and hip-hop all have in common? Being weird. Well, unless you count brandUn DeShay, of course. Somehow, the Chicago MC and beatsmith manages to throw all of them together along with video games, pain, love and even the dreaded “s” word* to create great music. All Day DeShay:AM is personal at times and playful at others. No matter which it is at the time it is being listened to, it is enjoyable and worth listening to.
“Shay Loves To Ball” is a lot more soulful than some may think from reading the name alone. With horns, tambourine and a sample from music’s yesteryear, Shay seamlessly illustrates that he is destined for greatness and that he loves way too much to hate. With lines like, “Artists like me don’t come ’round much/ Like black fathers or shooting stars…” brandUn easily proves that one of his strengths are his similes, metaphors and punchlines. A huge component of his songs, when he uses one of these things (which he does- all the time) they are not only clever, but they are unique as well. Admittedly, it may take a few listens to grasp all of them. This only adds to the replay value of All Day DeShay: AM.
While songs with lighter tones, such as “World Famous” or the hypnotically piano-filled “They Notice,” are enjoyable listens, DeShay’s lyrics truly shine when he is addressing his too-busy mind or his heavy heart. “VirGo Away For Awhile” is a nice contrast to the track proceeding it (which is the one that samples a commercial for Life Alert). Completing the thought begun by “Ur Fresh!,” it addresses the same romance’s falling out. Behind a variety of drums and a smooth chorus provided by Allen Ritter, brandUn admits that while he knows there is nothing he can do to salvage the relationship, he desperately wishes he could fix it. “Canopy” is also one of the strongest songs on the album. Here, he talks about frustration with music and love. Both of these things are very large themes on the album but with the production and delivery on All Day DeShay: AM offering a lot of variety, they do not become tiresome.
The necessity of some of the guest appearances on the album are debatable. While some of them do indeed enhance the songs that they are on, others seem to lack the same creativity that DeShay does. On “Why Bother,” Raz Fresco keeps his subject matter pretty safe with “flyness”, hoes and gear. Not to say that his verse is not enjoyable sylistically or delivery-wise, but it feels like there was a missed opportunity to explore new territory (especially since brandUn always seems to be more on the eccentric side). Listeners that seem to favor more popular subject material may see many of the features as simply offering more balance to the album though.
As a producer for such artists as Danny Brown, Kendrick Lamar, Curren$y and many others, brandUn DeShay’s talents are no mystery. However for anyone doubting his ability to hold his own as an MC, All Day DeShay:AM should extinguish any concerns. If the emotionally charged “Letter To God” does not make one a believer, it is simply because they have ice in their veins. Being able to strike a perfect balance of accessibility, personality, emotion and relatability is definitely no easy task. There are only a handful of artists that seem to be able to manage such a feat and brandUn is unquestionably one of them.
*The “s” word being “swag.”