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 Victor Shade (2 Albums, 2 Tracks)


Photo by Sergio Mottola
In 2002, RA Scion made his freshman debut with a project titled Apostrophe, The EP. Equipped with little more than a hand drum and a thrift-shop beat machine, he set out to make a name for himself within Seattle's burgeoning underground rap scene, making it clear to anyone who cared
to listen that there was, in fact, a didactic message in his music. His sophomore effort, Live & Learn, still lacked the overall production value that established his contemporaries like Boom Bap Project and D. Black as contenders for a more widespread audience, but the album marked the origin of his working relationship with DJ/Producer Sabzi of the Blue Scholars, who contributed beats for the album's stand-out tracks; two years later the duo would release one of The Town's most significant musical contributions of 2005, Common Market. As Common Market, RA Scion and Sabzi would go on to release 4 complete projects, most notably 2008's full length Tobacco Road, quickly followed by a digital-only EP offering titled The Winter's End. Critics and fans alike have speculated about the album's prominent theme of death as a metaphor for the dissolution of Common Market, but rumors have never been substantiated by either band member. What is certain, however, is that RA Scion will continue to make music. Now under the pseudonym Victor Shade (alter ego of Marvel Comics' West Coast Avenger, The Vision), RA appears more eager than ever to deliver his message to the listener. With producer MTK providing the perfect soundscape, RA delivers the graphic narrative, appearing as comfortable and as purposeful in a mask and cape as he did in bib overalls. While Victor Shade is sonically a half-genre removed from anything Common Market, the material remains message-driven; where Tobacco Road drew parallels between farm labor and community organizing, Victor Shade relies heavily on the analogy of artist as superhero, expounding upon the idea that "with great power comes great responsibility." Much is inferred here, even within the relatively obscure moniker - "victor," a champion, one who has overcome; "shade," a respite from the sun, the mythological god of which is Ra. It's evident on multiple levels that the emcee is reinventing himself, but without blatant disregard for his foundation. There is an appreciable congruousness in Victor Shade, a continuation without contradiction, a hearkening back to RA's early years. Suited up in the green and gold, the rapper is poised and confident, and with all the verve and vigor befitting of a caped crusader, he delivers his most impressive perfomance


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Photo by James Bailey
Victor Shade