Posted on April 1st, 2013 (2:00 pm) by Katherine Bradshaw

In the world of modern music, it becomes increasingly difficult, and sometimes frustrating, to accurately apply specific genre and subgenre labels. Not only are there too many of these categories to count, but a critic could spend hours dissecting each nuance of a song or artist, creating an entire map of influences. Sometimes, though, it’s refreshing to be able to experience music just as music, without categorizing it analytically.

Chicago producer Sean Nelson, the creative force behind hip-hop/dance project Shivastep, probably understands this sentiment. Pulling influence from several genre sources (the driving drums and heavy bass of Southern hip hop, and catchy and memorable pop hooks, just to name a few) yet creating his own sound by expanding upon these genres rather than limiting himself inside of them, Nelson has created an EP that encourages listeners to quit worrying about categories and just enjoy the music. Nelson has extensive musical training, and has experimented with many different instruments and genres. Ode To Tha Grind, Shivastep’s third record (released on February 7th, 2013) offers a complete dance floor experience, including fist-pumping beat-fueled tracks, as well as hip-swinging rhythms that feel a bit more laid back. The genuine intense zeal behind Ode To Tha Grind is its most notable feature, and the dancability is irresistible.

With title track “Ode To Tha Grind” as an opener, the dance party hits the ground running. High-energy drums and deep bass themes ensure no one remotely near this song will be able to stand still. Like most tracks on this EP, this action packed track is short and sweet: while other dance music often has longer tracks for extended time on the floor, Shivastep keeps the experience fresh and dynamic by keeping everything under five minutes.

Second track “On Like That” packs less punch than “Ode To Tha Grind,” offering the aforementioned hip-swinging drum rhythms and a laid-back recovery from “Ode To Tha Grind.” “Boss” and “Galaxy” repeat this pattern, the first being designed for epileptic strobe lights and the second a bit more relaxed. Sparsely-arranged yet straightforward “Badbitchez” completes this EP’s core, leaving only the finale, aptly titled “Big,” which has a dynamic intensity that sets it apart from the rest of Ode To The Grind. “Big”’s intensity climaxes onto one new level after another, finally breaking into a swirling medley of bright synth, pumping drums, and spoken (well, shouted) vocal samples. Though this track runs longer than the others (clocking in just under five minutes), you will still find yourself wanting more as it dies away.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to pinpoint genres within the endless body of music available at any given moment, artists like Sean Nelson remind us that sometimes it is more important to let go and just experience. Though Nelson’s biggest influences are clearly identifiable, it is obvious that he does not create for categories, but instead expands upon those which speak to him. And that, dear music fans, is where the magic happens.

Track List:
1. Ode To Tha Grind
2. On Like That
3. Boss
4. Galaxy
5. Badbitchez
6. Big

Shivastep: Ode To Tha Grind EP
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

73 / 100
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