Boomkat Product Review:
Equiknoxx Music's Shanique Marie bends reggae, 'ardcore, neo-soul, '90s rap, trip-hop and gospel forms around a muted pop backdrop. It's a modern Jamaican masterpiece, well-traveled but rooted in island sounds - linking Phyllis Dillon and Queen Ifrica with Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Lauryn Hill.
A gifted emcee who's also able to belt out soulful vocals at the drop of a hat, Shanique Marie possesses a versatility that's made Equiknoxx's shows unmissable. So it's a pleasure to hear that her album debut "GiGi's House" explores this skill so thoroughly but with such restraint. It would be too easy to just turn out a suite of bangers to follow the success of her breakout single 'Coconut Jelly Man', but with production largely from Equiknoxx's Gavsborg, "GiGi's House" instead uses Shanique's spectrum of influences sparingly and focuses squarely on the rare power of her voice.
Standout single 'Ballad' features Michael Vincent Waller on piano, and layers Shanique's vocals over a beat that could have been snipped from one of Mobb Deep's '90s tomes. A dusty kick and snare flips around fretless bass and cautious strings, but never sounds awkward, dark or pensive - rather Shanique takes the familiar NYC melancholy to church, flipping it into praise.
'Government Name' meanwhile is squarely in the island glow, all sun-bleached reggae goodness with Exile Di Brave and Raging Fyah sharing vocal duties over clipped bass and a sparse, jazzy rhythm. 'Grow' is half-speed lovers pop, all slippery organ sounds, 'Vogue' whispers and Shanique's memorably sugary hooks that remind fondly of last year's genius Finn collab 'Lifey / Movers'. And on 'Druggin', her Sunday school affirmations are draped around roaring bass bass that sounds as powerful as John B's 'Up All Night'.
'GiGi's House' is a milsetone achievement from Shanique and the Equiknoxx family, and an album that looks set to soundtrack a hot summer of cautious optimism.