Dollars and sense
The underground hip-hop landscape traditionally includes an assortment of odd characters who travel in packs. The Shape Shifters, perhaps the most eccentric of such flocks, hail from Los Angeles and have been making challenging music for almost a decade. Formed in the early ’90s around the graffiti collective CBS, the Shape Shifters began as a loose association of self-admitted “drunken vandals” with an affinity for hip-hop’s elements. After a slew of bizarre yet fundamentally sound indie releases, including Planet Of The Shapes, Know Future, Adopted By Aliens, Soul Lows, and Soul Lows II, the Shifters soon developed a cult-like following. Their current lineup is comprised of AWOL One, Existereo, Die, Life Rexall, Akuma, Radioinactive, Circus, and LA Jae. Jae, Die, and Akuma will bless the Alamo City this week to honor the rap retirement of San Antonio’s Louie Dollars, a home-grown artist with a Shifters-like musical slant.
Scuba Gooding Sr.
Sat, Feb 25
606 W. Cypress
The trio is touring behind Was Here, the crew’s most accessible album to date, and the emcees individually have been making some noise of their own. Akuma recently dropped his solid solo debut Eye In The Sky, Jae blazed on the long overdue Shape Shifters Mixtape, and Die Young’s vampire-themed concept record, Ravish, has also been well-received. On the Shifters’ website, Existereo says: “We’ve all become way more professional. We know who we are, in terms of our styles, and we’ve become more controlled. Yeah, we’ve lost some of the oddness. But now we know how to do things, whereas before we’d just go into everything blind.”
Only time will tell whether the Shape Shifters’ unique view of hip-hop will ultimately reach the masses, but much like heavy metal in the ’80s and ’90s, the crew has found a loyal audience in San Antonio. The Shifters’ gospel is a testament to indie rap careers in general, where camaraderie and lived experiences tend to outweigh platinum awards and iced grills. •
By M. Solis