For every nightclub that was missing a definitive hip-hop swagger this spring, SHAH33D has the perfect offering in his brand new single, the high-powered “Optionsz,” which is currently out everywhere that independent music is available. Critics and rap aficionados from one coast to the next have been abuzz with the work that SHAH33D has been turning out from his studio sessions in the last five years, and I think there’s an argument to be made that “Optionsz” is the best of the bunch by a mile. It sports a freestyle-esque crown jewel in its vocal track, a bassline that stops just short of crushing the percussion into dust, and a polished vibrato that is both understated and excessive in the most hypnotic of fashions. 


The percussion takes a little bit to warm up and find its groove at the onset of “Optionsz,” but once it does, we’re off and running with a rollercoaster-style rhythm that has so many bends and curves that we’re constantly wondering what wall of sound we’re about to run head-on into next. SHAH33D is chill from the get-go, slicing away at the verses as if he were some sort of lyrical samurai, and even at the music’s most claustrophobic and smothering, nothing can put out the flame that his vocal ultimately sparks. As we get closer and closer to the chorus, there’s an impending sense of doom that looms over the bassline, but turning back at this point is anything but possible. 

With the force of a thousand tidal waves, the hook in the chorus smacks down on us with impunity, and SHAH33D finally lets a little bit of catharsis into the track through his swirling utterance of the lyrics. I would have made the bass just a dash louder in this part of the song than he did, but I can understand why he wanted to keep the main focus on the rapping, which sort of binds the different instrumental parts together and keeps everything from feeling fragmented and/or thrown together. SHAH33D has shown himself to be an inventive recording artist, and it would seem to me that he’s only improving with time and experience (the latter of which he’s racked up in spades over the last year and a half). 


“Optionsz” concludes a meltdown of melodies led into the darkness by SHAH33D himself, and while the track is fairly moderate in total length, it has a captivating presence that makes it feel much longer. It would be intriguing to hear an extended remix of this song before the spring is over, but even if this is the only incarnation that we hear of it outside of SHAH33D’s touring in the future, I have a feeling that it will still be one of the most discussed releases of his scene this season. He’s made a fan out of me on the strength of his talents as they’re displayed to us in this performance, and once you give it a spin for yourself, I think you’ll probably wind up in the same boat as I am. 

Garth Thomas