‘My stars are aligned and half of the time I’m half of they age
Surpassing their prime, guess pressure makes diamonds, n***a’
Never heard of The Eagle before?
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa to an African mother and an Irish father, Dark Moon Flower is the 23-year old rapper’s third release. His debut album, Yellow, was released in 2017, and the follow-up E.P., Never Grow Up, dropped the following year.
Dark Moon Flower
Dark Moon Flower is a 23-song project that features, among others, South African rapper Nasty C, Nigerian Alte artist Santi and international acts Kota The Friend, Bas, and Lute.
Shooterkhumz, KK Tha 1st, Ced Brown, Resarn, Jay Kurzweil, Ext 9 Sound, Lostboy.wav, and Like are all credited as producers on this mixtape.
Let’s dive right into the critique!
Having listened to BLACK before the release of the project, I must acknowledge a slight bias when getting to the song on the intro.
I fell in love with the 808s then. What seems to have gone over my head, though, is the sheer number of times he switches his flow on his verses.
‘Why you boys talking ‘bout my wave?
When y’all n****s don’t know how to surf’
An appropriate choice for a lead single? I agree. It directly engages with his core fan base.
Shane, typical of every other rapper, comes off as braggadocious on most, if not all, of the bars.
When he isn’t flexing about putting his city on the map, he’s calling out other rappers on their wack lyricism.
The skit at the end had me laughing my head off!
I’m not on time with everything but b**** I’m worth the wait
Check out the visuals for BLACK here.
The piano harmonies on Storytime buckle you up for the lyrical journey that you’re about to depart on. By the time the drums come on, Shane’s honking the horn, ready to step on the gas.
Shane recalls an unfriendly encounter in the first verse. On that Tuesday, two kids from his neighborhood robbed him in the middle of the night.
‘But f**k these n****s, hope they burn for eternity b***h
Cause all the heat will probably come from all these verses and s**t’
When he breaks down the situation later to his friends, it turns out that they could identify one of the kids. The verse ends with The Eagle and his friends’ planning the vengeance against them.
The second verse brings out the hunger, and it’s a welcome reminder (just in case some of you slipped and forgot) as to why we all love to hear Shane spitting bars.
You can’t hate on Shane’s versatility. Especially not when his storytelling skills are top-tier. Getting back to this for a couple more listens.
Peeping the song title on the tracklist, it didn’t hit me, at least not at first, that Shooter Khumz would sample XXXTENTACION’s Hope.
Damn! The muffled melody in the backdrop. The blend with the subtle drums is a welcome addition that serves as the icing on the cake.
‘My stomach was rumbling, they was eatin’
I’m vegan when it comes to my paper
Cause all I’m eating is the green’
As if I wasn’t star-struck enough already, Shane pays homage to two of the greatest hip hop stars of the new school; J Cole and Kendrick Lamar, on these two bars.
‘“Kill your favourites for free”, Yo, yo, yo…’
‘I hit the J like I’m Cole about it’
The creme de la creme so far. Never thought anyone would outdo XXXTENTACION on the Hope instrumental, but Shane comes as close.
Up 1 (ft Lute)
Lute jumps in headfirst onto the hook. In the first verse, he speaks on the struggles that he went through trying to make it in the rap game.
‘Moved from the hood, now my life is sunny
Turn my pain into milk and honey’
The Eagle picks up right from where Lute leaves off, albeit he centers around on not having an escape in the thick of things and eventually resorting to a higher power for help, like the proverbial prodigal son.
‘Loneliest hours are when I’m all by my self
When no one can help screaming at the top of my lungs
To see, if God hear me and maybe know the pain that I felt’
Up 1 is a switch from the hard-hitting bars to a more mellow mood, which is a very welcome relief, considering the monotony thus far with the hard-hitting basslines.
Let Go (ft The Hics)
The smoothness on Up 1 oozes so smoothly into Let Go, and I’m here for all of it!
I confess that I had never heard music from the Hics before listening to this track.
‘Dark moon flowers gotta shine in the dark
Only know who’s with you when it’s dark out here’
I did fall in love with both the hook and the pre-hook with just the first listen, to which I was pleasantly surprised. So much for first impressions!
Shane shows an entirely different side of him on this track, bringing out his emotions and possible inspiration for the album title on this verse.
This track was admittedly an unlikely favorite from the project. Worth a second (and third) listen.
The drums on this track! Back to the bouncy basslines. Goddamn!
Let’s not even get started on the hook cause Shane brought the heat.
‘My albums is unannounced
That’s classic, that’s word of mouth’
Just like on BLACK, Shane raps on how much he’s making from his shows and how other rappers keep on jacking his style.
A favorite? Not just yet. A potential grower, though.
Round Here (ft. Caleborate)
The drums again! It sounds like Shooter Khumz and KKtha1st just slowed the tempo on Questionz and looped piano chords onto it.
Caleborate rap’s debut, at least for me, and I’m impressed. Catchy flow.
‘Be the only n****, make it out
Gotta give it back with every deal n****’
Both rappers speak on their come ups on their verses. The retrospection mirrors on these bars (or their interpolations).
‘Be about it (Be)
Don’t speak about it (Don’t speak)’
Must be the PARIS instrumental I hear at 2:59. I didn’t realize that adding subtle drums would be such a great idea.
Damn the short skit of this guy bragging about how expensive his Off-White sneakers are did crack me up good.
(P.S.: I’d pick Jordans over Off-Whites on any day, but I’m not stirring that hornet’s nest today)
An unlikely favorite from the album (yet again) and looking forward to listening back to this.
PARIS (ft. Nasty C)
PARIS was the second single released off Dark Moon Flower. Just like BLACK, it hugely engages his day ones’.
Enlisting fellow South African rapper Nasty C is the highlight of PARIS. Would I be lying if I didn’t admit that I was biased just by the sight of his feature? Yeah, right, I would.
‘I haven’t been home in a while
So I spent a crib on my teeth (teeth)’
KKtha1st added harder drums to the instrumental than there were on Round Here. It’s only right that he did cause what else did you expect would happen when two of the greatest hopped on the same track?
Bars! Non-bargainable! And so is the money Nasty C is making from his raps.
‘Made a M on my vocab (no cap)
I got rich with my dictionary’
Calling it in early cause I honestly don’t think any other joint will outdo PARIS. Favorite track of the album!
Birdz (ft J-Tek)
Having a difficult time getting the exact words on the hook? Don’t worry. You aren’t alone. Deliberate or not of Shooter Khumz, guess we can only but speculate.
Regardless of the slight mixing inconvenience, I knew from the get-go that Shane and J-Tek hadn’t come to play when they went for the retro flow on this beat.
‘Bone splitter, came from the streets n****
Now we in the room when they talkin’ six figures’
J-Tek’s verse. Whew! Need I say anymore? Talk about chilling guest features.
‘This just ain’t no gimmick, this a motherf*****’ skill
Ironic the bars fire but I’m giving ’em chills, ooh‘
I can’t call Birdz a favorite yet, but I’ll certainly grow to love it, though.
Evolve (ft PatricKxxLee)
First thoughts on listening to Evolve? Shane and PatricKxxLee sampled XXXTENTACION’s raw and abrasive ‘screaming’ flow, similar to the one on Floor 555.
‘Ok now no cap don’t fight sunlight
My little receiver told me it cost what it give right’
The back and forth on the verses gave the allure of a highly-charged battle rap cipher, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Loved it? Definitely! Eager to listen in again to this masterpiece.
‘I wasn’t made in the media, the media don’t make me
I make the paper, the paper don’t make me’
KKtha1st brought back the drums! And Shane’s still talking his talk!
‘I gotta rap to sell records (Rap), y’all gotta tweet to sell records
The kids, they know I’m the GOAT (The GOAT)’
At only a verse and a hook long, Xen is among the shorter songs on the album, but it’s certainly not one of the least.
Similar to Evolve, Shane shines when he stays in his pocket. Almost in the middle of the album and still finding favorites! Very impressed so far.
(If you do get to read this, can we get a Nasty C verse on the remix of Xen? Have a feeling he’d kill it!)
‘I’m at the top and there’s nobody else
Me and my niggas did this shit by ourselves’
7’s not any different from Xen, which isn’t that much of a surprise considering that production is by KKtha1st.
The song’s a verse long, but Shane’s still at it.
‘Heard that your albums ain’t doing too well
Don’t hit up my line, be looking for help’
Should Shane have left this off the album? I think so. Alternatively, he could have just put it out together with Xen.
Didn’t vibe with this song as much in the first listen, probably cause I got fatigued listening to Shane flexing about how great a rapper he is.
The instrumental is fire, though! I’ll give that credit where it’s due.
Have a Little Faith I’ve Been Thinking About Dying
Sampled from Ama Lou’s Tried Up, off her DDD EP, Have a Little Faith I’ve Been Thinking About Dying is that shift that Dark Moon Flower desperately needed.
Subtle drums. An even more melodious flow by Shane. A welcome respite to break the monotony. It’s like Shane is reading through the critique in real-time!
‘When they chilling with me, it’s like they chilling in space
Cause they never been this high, look a star in his face’
I love this song cause it forces Shane out of his comfort zone, just like on Up 1 and Let Go.
The question I’ll ask myself as I get back to this song later is whether I like the song because it’s different from the preceding three or because it’s a great song.
Frank (ft Themind)
‘You’re a special kind of something
The kind I would spend my last dime for’
Frank takes off where Have a Little Faith I’ve Been Thinking About Dying leaves off. Themind comes in first with a soulful, love-filled chorus, setting up the stage for Shane, who declares his undying love for the girl of his dreams.
‘Spend our money on these views hit a coast or two
As long as you by my side’
Frank is undoubtedly the love song of the album. If Shane intended to show off his versatility with this song further, he outdid himself.
Worth re-listening! Unlikely favorite but very impressed.
Vanya (ft Santi & Bas)
What happens when you go through the album tracklist, and you find out that two of your favorites feature on the same track?
You get pretty excited for starters. It was tempting not to go straight past the first fourteen tracks. However, I bid my time, but I can’t deny the fact that I was looking forward to hearing Vanya.
‘Check my wrist, its on froze
And my bitch, she so cold’
The thing that caught my ear first was the guitar and how it blended harmoniously with the drums on the instrumental. Shane gets to go first and in typical fashion raps:
‘ Said I wouldn’t make it
But I’m out here getting racks in my spaceship’
He comes back on with the catchy hook and bridge while paving the way for Bas to come in with the second verse. He opts for the same flow as Shane, still rapping on the struggle of their come-up.
‘Coming home a hunnid g’s up
They don’t wan’ play with me’
Santi doesn’t waste any breath on his verse. Longest of the trio’s raps and he outshines both Shane and Bas. He switches flows four times in a minute, and he’s in contention for the best guest verse on the album.
‘Hop in the car, lil baby dont look in the sky (on the freeway)
All of my niggas survived, but fuck it we destined to die (freeway)’
Could I call it in already? Well, it’s a tight race between him and Nasty C, and I’m dreading the thought of having to pick.
It’s a perfect balance between hard-hitting bars and melodious flows. If there’s any song that came as close to a classic as PARIS, then it would be Vanya.
My goodness! Kurzweil brought out the piano chords on June, and it’s music to my ears (quite literally)!
Quite synonymous with Shane is paying his respects to the greats. On the song June, he continues to demonstrate the same by rapping on the influence Lil Wayne (Weezy) had on his life at the tender age of 13.
‘I done helped so many niggas out, who forgot
Wonder when’s time to remember?’
June is a mix of Shane’s retrospection and introspection. This realization pegs its’ significance of him being a Gemini. In an interview with Apple Music, he speaks on seeking balance:
“I started the year off having to balance two extremes. One extreme was living through one of the highlights of my career — being blessed enough to go on tour with Bas and Dreamville. The other extreme was having to experience losing my father. Basically, in a nutshell, those two extremes are a metaphor for the instability I’ve experienced my whole life. If anything, it put me in a position where I had to find a middle ground for these conflicting sides of my life. I see it as symbolic of me being a Gemini and also being half-Irish and half-African. I have to be in tune with both sides and it’s always been like that in my life, those two sides, recording ‘Up 1’ with Lute in Dublin and having Bas, Santi and I on ‘Vanya’ — three different African artists from three different parts of Africa — so the project’s not overpowered by the other international collaborations.”
June is one of the thematically outstanding songs on the album. Giving this more listens cause it adds that special seasoning to Dark Moon Flower.
Some Are Fine
From the moment the audience starts screaming on Some Are Fine, I knew that it would be a different feel. KKtha1st taps into a jazzy beat, and I doubted that Shane could handle it.
Pleasantly surprised, I was. While I hadn’t underestimated Shane’s versatility, it didn’t come to mind that he could subtly sample Mac Miller’s flow on Hurt Feelings and add a little spin while he was at it.
‘If they don’t stab in back, they go come through the front
I close my eyes and try to visualise a world where it’s all about love’
However, Some are Fine sounds like an extension of June, conceptually speaking. Loads of introspection and retrospection. Hard to say it, but the album could do fine without it.
The only saving grace is the boppy bassline. I didn’t like this song on the first listen, but I feel it has potential as a grower.
Lost in the Shade (ft Kota The Friend)
‘Figured that they could put me inside of a closed box
A nine to five is never the timing,’
Before getting into how excited I was for a Kota verse, let me, deep-dive, into aspects of the instrumental. Forget the piano chords and the subtle drums. There’s a saxophone that comes in just before the first verse. Iconic production by Shooter Khumz.
‘Can’t help the fact that I feel like this is a rat race
Cause everybody’s chasing cheese’
Need I mention how seamless the features on the album all sound. Lost in the Shade is no exception. You could hear the chemistry right from the verses and Shane alludes to it in this excerpt:
“Even though it all ties in together, the whole project isn’t just one sound. The production is so layered that each sound peaks depending on your mood. There are different textures because of the features and that gives it different moods. Like, “Whispering To the Moon” with The Hics just adds that pop of colour to the record. With my first two projects I had no features, I probably had one feature across my debut album and EP. Approaching these features was kind of like going outside and playing with my friends. I feature everybody off an organic process and I had to experience a real moment with you. These are some of my favourite artists in the world and I think it’s just ridiculous that it all happened on my project. Then the producers. Some who’ve worked on some of the greatest projects like Forest Hills Drive or Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, alongside producers that worked on Yellow by Shane Eagle. Having them all on one project has some significance. This is basically me saying ‘When I do features, look who I want to be around.’”
I love Lost in the Shade, and I’m excited to listen to it again!
Zaire (ft J-Tek)
J-Tek’s back on again. Is there something about his appearances and incomprehensible pre-hooks? No correlation, but it left me thinking.
‘Kick raps for nine to fives, my venues is double size
My eyes is on the prize, your eyes is switching sides’
I could hear the saxophone clearly on Zaire, unlike on Lost in the Shade. The 808s are a welcome addition to the instrumental. Unlike his verse on Birdz, I loved his take here. He redeems himself!
‘If anything, don’t let them take your soul
That’s one thing that’s worth more than gold’
When I thought I had raked in enough favorites from the album, Zaire comes in like I’m back on BLACK.
Whispering to the Moon (ft The Hics)
Whispering to the Moon, sampled from The World Is A Place by Rhythm, was released back in 1976. There’s a slight increase in tempo, but this doesn’t water down the fact that a classic will always remain a classic.
‘I’m tryn’a find myself in the night time
I’m tryn’a tell the truth when it don’t rhyme’
Still, in collaboration mode, Shane enlists The Hics on the hook, bridge, and chorus. Never has a second feature (except for Zaire obviously) felt so right cause damn! The melody is surreal!
‘Just because you miss me in the winter
Doesn’t make you mine’
Whispering to the Moon picks up from where Frank leaves off and is yet another song for the love birds. Didn’t expect to like this off the first listen, but there’s The Hics’ Midas touch that I didn’t factor in.
Guitar chords! Another first! KKtha1st is the gift that keeps on giving. Of course, the instrumental wouldn’t be complete without the drums, subtle or not.
‘Now if I die today, I’m a legend
And all the jewels I drop will live longer than they presence’
Shane’s bars are on point, as it should be, considering he’s talking his GOAT talk. Other than his delivery, there’s nothing particularly exciting or different about Forever Young.
Would I enjoy this if it was a stand-alone single? I probably would. Like a host of other songs on the album, this feels like a filler.
Props to Like on production. A concoction of drums, guitar chords, and a weird adlib looped in the background. How they all piece together and still sound magical is wizardry.
Sonically different? Absolutely! Thematically similar? Undeniably. Just like Forever Young, Wildflower didn’t have to make it to the album.
‘Somewhere trying to be a wild flower
Somewhere trying to find my way’
By far, the song I least enjoyed in the compilation. I can’t even call it a grower cause I don’t think I’ll listen to it again.
Probably wondering why I’d enjoy listening to an outro as much as l did with Chef Eagle. It’s only but a skit, one would argue. I’ll leave the conversation on skits and their importance for another piece.
For starters, the sax’s back! Let me not even talk about the drums! And if you thought you’d heard all of Shane’s chest-thumping, then brace yourself for one last not-so-magnanimous brag.
‘It’s that shit you could cook to
Y’all niggas still dropping that other shit’
Chef Eagle is a befitting ending to a classic. Indeed an understatement, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Overall album review
For the most part, the album is indeed a classic. However, at 23 songs long, there’s a lot of dead weight that needs discarding in the forms of fillers.
Shane explains the length and significance of the album in light of his previous projects below:
“Dark Moon Flower is the next part of my journey, it’s a part of the story. There’s about 23 songs on the project and each is a representation of a year of my life. Each song symbolises my stage of evolution and what I had to understand to get to this point. Some of the records are about me grieving, just letting go or finding my zen in this chaotic world. Yellow was the light that guides you, illuminates you through everything and Never Grow Up. was reminiscent of my favourite memories as a kid. With Dark Moon Flower, this is my ascension — it’s me, using darkness as my strength this time. It’s to remind my fans that darkness isn’t something to be afraid of, it’s something that helps you become stronger at the end of the day. I feel like the experiences I’ve gone through gave me the inspiration and tools to use, so Dark Moon Flower became my outlet to put all that in there and get the craziest results.”
Dark Moon Flower in one word? CLASSIC. The bars! The versatility! The features! The melodies! The growth!
Length aside, I can’t wait to see how well the mixtape ages! (And yes, it’s a mixtape, not an album. Shane keeps reminding everyone who conveniently forgets)
Listen to this mixtape on these digital streaming platforms here.