June 2012 marked the TRES Records release of Let It Go – the debut LP from Detroit’s own House Shoes.
It feels wrong to call this a ‘debut’ record, not only because it doesn’t sound like a first-try, but because House Shoes isn’t new. He released the now treasure-hunted Jay Dee Unreleased EP (1996), and Phat Kat’s classic Dedication to the Suckers (1999) on his own imprint. He’s produced for the Big Proof (D12), J Dilla, Danny Brown, and Elzhi. He’s DJ’ed for Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, Mayer Hawthorne, and too many more to list.
Technically, however, this is his debut LP. One that hip-hop ‘know-somethings’ have been asking for (for years). One he’s been holding on to for a while. One he’s finally letting go.
The double-vinyl LP packaging comes with gatefold jacket liner notes, and digital download cards for the album. The double-disc CD release is the LP, plus a second disc housing the album’s instrumentals. Vocal-free versions of each song showcase the claps, snares, kicks, and soul-filled samples that House Shoes plates for the project (nuances that are oft overlooked next to features).
Let It Go boasts features by the ‘heavyweights’ and the ‘hungry’ alike; balanced between artists accustomed to hip-hop limelight, and those still chasing it.
The project bats with a heavy-handed Motown roster. Detroit-bred collaborators include Big Tone, Moe Dirdee, Mayer Hawthorne, Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, and Danny Brown, among others. Los Angeles (Oh No, MED, The Alchemist, Co$$), Norfolk (Nottz), St. Louis (Black Spade), New York (Roc Marciano), and Chicago (Chali 2na, of Jurassic 5) pinch-hit throughout the project.
Songs like ‘Dirt feat. Greneberg’ (Oh No, Alchemist, Roc Marciano) and ‘Everything (Modern Family) feat. Fatt Father’ are tough to picture on the same project if listened to separately. In the context of Let It Go, however, they feel blood related and well placed.
Shoes delivers an album that sound like an album (and not a mixtape) – no small feat in the topography of today’s music. He blends the songs, instrumentals, and interludes into a sequence that sounds like they all belong to something bigger than their time stamp and signature. Individually, the songs are strong; soaked in that neck-snapping, gritty-drummed, trouble-water-soul-sampled ‘umph’ that makes hip hop magnetic. But to dissect the album into its parts would miss the point.
The triumph of Let It Go is the full hour of music, not any fraction of the 60-some-minute run-time.