There is a new wave sweeping Miami’s historic Hip Hop Scene. Just as Summer has given way to Autumn which will surrender to Winter before we know it, the seasons are changing in our local scene and there are some frigid cold voices that aren’t asking to be heard, they are demanding it. Through a consistent output of quality produced records in the 3rd Qtr of 2023, and an opening set at the CORMEGA show that left a lot of people whispering their name, THE SHADOW LEAGUE is making their presence felt on the court, and no one is attracting more targets then their Center, BIG J. That’s fine by him. He welcomes Haters. He’s the Biggest of them All.
Listen to WWJD by BIG J x MRLN RECORDS
On WWJD, BIG J CSB’s Debut Album on SHADOW LEAGUE RECORDS produced entirely by young Miami sample savant MRLNRECORDS, the South Miami Giant comes in handing out Open Handed Jaw Checks to aspiring rappers, young and old on the intro “HATERS ANTHEM” as he patiently explains “I spit out bad rappers like bad cheese that went moldy on a Wednesday/ You 45 and Single at the Club, homie you ain’t no Jefe/.” Gotttt Damnnn.
What Would J Do?? Serve up Disrespect by the Tray Full it seems as he shits on anyone trying to stand next to his team. Over an exciting arrangement of what sounds like Game Show Theme Horns BIG J serves more scripts than Barnes and Nobles and gives a long list of Nationalities he’s dicked down “So I can’t be racist/ cuz I’m fucking all the Flavors/”. Negative F%$KS given.
On the lead single “NORCHAD OMIER” J and SHADOW LEAGUE [dru], ball on the ops like the Nicaraguan U.M. Power Forward the joint is named after. Repping South Florida hard as fuh on the Hook, BIG J makes it clear, “Fuck the tag bitch, my left hand steer/ Right Hand catching plays like Norchad Omier/ bang it off the Backboard I smash wack rap fools/ A lot of yall say you outside, but Who Is You/ Fuck your Little Producer and your Engineer too/ If you ain’t laced by MRLN I feel bad for you/”. The beat MRLN cooks up for this one is as nasty as anything out the Daringer vault. [dru] knows just what to do with the rock when it gets passed to him, spitting bars like “The candy red paint reflects all my vices/ Time is running out but the Time Piece is priceless/ Got the Hangover/ All these False Prohets, their reigns Over/ Why does my cup feel empty when it Runneth Over?/”
This song blends beautifully into J COMPLEX, where The Biggest Hater describes the root of his lack of faith in detail. The beat and the verses are poignant, stirring the soul to look in at itself before looking J in his face. With the same magical transition that it appeared, the J COMPLEX dissappears effortlessly into BEYOND SPACE THERE’S HEAVEN, an entire bop anchored by SLR Hook Master SCRUE HEFNER. If SCRUEs Hook lifts you into space, it’s J’s dependable cadence and sturdy subject matter that makes this craft worthy of space travel. Strong enough to withstand re-entry and crash landing on an alien planet on verse 2 as MRLN flips the beat wickedly. This is Def one of the Highlights of the project.
MRLN does it all over 12 tracks of musical manipulation. He lays dirty drums like the ones at then of BEYOND SPACE, but he also fucks with the drumless loop wave and produces beautiful pieces like TRUFFLE 1/2, where J barks in his deep bass voice over a lovely sped up soul loop, “You wanta hear God in his fullest then Press Play/ Only thing I got in common with Jesus is the letter J/”. Big J is def on his 2nd Qtr Tom Brady shit on this album, and he got a whole team bringing the same energy. On BANGTONA 500, ESTEBANG & SAINT GUAP join J over a MRLN beat that has them sounding like they pulling a Drive By all the way up the Florida Turnpike.
MRLNRECORDS knows when to tap on the breaks and he does so brilliantly on SABOR DULCE where J sounds great “Taking Shits in Italian Minks” over the down tempo lo fi vibe. SHADOW LEAGUE Songstress ARI LU encants a mesmerizing vocal spell that instantly makes this a song you can play while you riding with your lady. ESTEBANG comes in on the second verse speaking pure vision manifestation, “I make the door, I break it down, I’m coming in/ I’m the Cure for the World, man I’m the Vitamin/”. The verse is full of self affirmation and ends with the question, “with a whole squad that’s just as focused, how can they Not win?”. Big J steps in at the end of the joint, right when your making out with your girl over the hook, just to remind you that this album ain’t no Bitch Shit! “Love to my people and my fans, Fuck you If you ain’t with me.” That’s when the all hell breaks loose. The SHADOW LEAGUE meets the GOAT FARM on MONTREAL SCREWJOB as J passes the 2nd verse to SHOTTIE “to leave its name on the tomb”. SHOTTIE does what SHOTTIE does, playing with his food like “You may not see it but its incubating/ Throwing out subliminals, everytime you touch the ink, you baiting/ Fishing for a response/ I feel like I respawned/ so deep in hell that I could reach SPAWN/”. It’s great to see Miami’s best with Miami’s New hungry up and comers who are making a serious name for themselves. It shows the sense of Community we have in these scene, but don’t get it twisted, SHOTTIE wouldn’t be on this record if he didn’t fuck with BIG J’s Movement. This one should definitely see spins on all the Indie Hip Hip platforms. CLOSING CREDITS is another Verse Volly that DJs need to have on Rotation as BIJ J & SCRUE HEFNER go verse for verse over a beat that SCRUE says sounds like movie credits.
BIG J says cats “comparing him to other rappers is childish”, but I can’t help hear Guilty Simpson grit and experience in his voice or Boldy James smoothness and mastery of saying the most without saying too much in his cadence through out the project and joints like ACCUMULUS. Oh, just when you think he only got one lane, He closes the album with LET ME RIDE, a bop that will have you throwing up the U and claiming Miami by the end of the album. Fuck, now he’s reminding me of BUN B, who represents the South to the fullest not only with his music, but with his Business Mind. BIG J, MRLNRECORDS & The SHADOW LEAGUE TEAM definitely have their business hats on. Their rise in the South Florida Hip Hop conversation is proof of this. If you hear a healthy amount of pride and flexing on WWJD, it’s because these brothers move as professionals and they know they are supposed to be here and beyond. Now its time for the rest of the world to find out.
You can catch BIG J CSB & SHADOW LEAGUE opening up for STOVE GOD COOKS on Dec 9th for Art Basel.
Vice City Cypher, WVCC Radio, PROFRESH Publicty. With over 20 Years in South Florida’s Hip Hop Scene 8ch2Owens has carved his name into the Miami Hip Hop history books, and now uses his talents to promote the best in South Florida Indie Hip Hop and Underground Hip Hop from around the globe.