When you slap Early 20's, the debut album from Bay Area rapper Shay, it feels like you're listening to a seasoned veteran. Track after track, Shay treats the mic like an Everlast bag and adds his name to the long list of Left Coast spitters primed to leapfrog the competition.
Staying true to his namesake, Shay's flow is tight and gets to the point like the end of a sentence. Throughout most of Early 20's Shay flaunts a rapid-fire flow littered with succinct yet potent punchlines ("I tell it like it is like Simon Cowell," "Runnin' in this b—tch like I'm Clinton Portis"). Given the project's primary subject matter—Shay's early years and life as an early-twenty-something—Shay's bars are appropriately soundtracked by childhood homie and talented producer Mitchythekid.
Mitchy's skills on the ones and twos arguably shine the brightest on "Save It," Shay's standout track that calls out proselytizing holy rollers. The seamless string arrangement and crispy drums and Shay's chilling lines are amplified by the ominous music video, shot by Connor Young:
Overall, Early 20's is pieced together quite well, and there are plenty of memorable blaps. Highlights include Shay's two opening ditties, the equally electrifying "First Name Basis" and "I'm Gone," as well as "Dumber" and the Country Crock-smooth "You Say."