Sebs & Webs Review: The Gateway Drug

Sebs & Webs
Gateway Drug - Official Cover

Image by nobodiesfromnowhere via Flickr

As many parts gritty as it is inspiring and thoughtful, the sophomore album from the artist formerly known as Shaolin represents the Northwest in full capacity.

S/W rating:

0 - Fail, 1 - Acceptable, 2 – Below Avg, 3 – Average, 4 – Above Avg, 5 – WOW

3.25 out of 5

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Sebs:

This album for the most part is a reasonable effort from Shao.

There is variety of songs on this album, but i think that some could have been left out for a more concentrated piece. A few years back artists would try to fill up a cd just to give the consumer a full product, but now I realize more and more albums are put out with about 12 songs on them; more concentration. I understand that this album was put together over the span of about 6-7 years, which is why some of the lyrics seem dated,(“only dead presidents I need are bush’s”, “like Shaun Alexander I get all the carries”) so I’m sure he had a hefty selection of songs to put on the album.

As far as lyrics go, Shao did come in above par, but not  amazing. Some of the songs that I thought he brought a good lyrical savvy in were songs that sounded a bit out of place (1,2(Yes Y’all), and Exhale), not because of the songs, but because of the sound on it. Maybe its just my ear for production, but they just had a different sound from the rest of the album; more of a grittier sound, perhaps just mixed by a different set of ears. Its not a bad sound, its just not how the rest of the album was mixed.

Other notable tracks that I favored were “Kiss of the Dragon” and “Love is Blue”. Dragon.. because I just love a song that starts out talking about slapping people in the face! Naw really though, good beat, nice song structure; I enjoyed it very much so. Love.. exposes Shao’s more personal side and it shows through in the lyrics. Arjay is featured on numerous tracks and I think he did an excellent job of crooning. This album really has an audience and I’m sure it will find them, so all in all I rate this a 3 out of 5.

  • Pros: Beats, Arjay, lyrics.
  • Cons: Continuity, length.
  • Favorite Track: 1,2 (Yes Y’all)

Webs:

Though he is borne of Pasco, deep in Washington‘s 509, Shao Sosa has found acceptance and built a strong network throughout the northwest. The Terminill mixed Gateway Drug is a representation of Shao’s journey and homages to his professional music career.  Shao Sosa reminds me of a kung-fu vagabond, traveling in a wild west like rap universe where his skills go unmatched and his metaphorical squabbles are only requiring a relaxed exercise of will; he seems too advanced for the material he is working with.

Productions from On One are the high point for me. Through the Spokane native’s sub-pavement sounds, Shao’s lyrics seem effortless, varied and honest. On such collaborations, there is definition of what the northwest could be like; less play-pretend-thuggery and might-as-well-be-coverband shenanigans.  There is no shortage of talent featured as Shao Sosa has a worthy collection of skilled allies: On One being a comparative match up, the undervalued Illizm, and Arjay who is easily in the top 5 of NW singers. In contrast, many beats seem like relics of the nineties or ‘presets’ from a software install or keyboard. There is a big disconnect on many tracks; Nas once described a song as being a marriage between the beat and lyrics – a portion of the songs here sound at worst like a regrettable one night stand, at best a not-so-crackin’ friend with benefits.

Shao is at his best when he rides the underground / gritty soundscapes; too much of this album seems forced to top out running time or possibly appease a crowd that probably isn’t listening anyway.  The best tracks are sprinkled throughout which is not necessarily a downside, it just ends up adding a time-release element to The Gateway Drug. There is an extremely negative review for this album somewhere on the internet that didn’t find the album to be much of an entry (or gateway) to anything, however the reviewer seemed to ignore the fact the the Northwest Hip-Hop scene is largely weighted towards west coast impersonators, Latin underground,  and homages to east coast backpacker music. The Gateway Drug appeals to artists/fans of this sector and provides lucid dreams of the experimental, envelope pushing future that will shape what history will call “The Northwest Sound”.

To paraphrase his own lyrics, Shao Sosa is the NW prince that breaks bread with peasants. However, it would be satisfying to see Shao enter the dojo with collaborators and producers that challenge him. Shao claims it will be  a long time before he produces another album but we suspect that he may not be immune to the effects of this prescription. 3.5 out of 5.

  • Pros: smart lyrics, On One, Terminill.
  • Cons: generic beats, honey jams.
  • Favorite Track: Kiss of the Dragon
  • Guilty Pleasure: Like Geea!

Sebs & Webs Review: Magill’s – Pasco, WA

Sebs & Webs

S/W rating:

0 – Fail, 1 – Acceptable, 2 – Below Avg, 3 – Average, 4 – Above Avg, 5 – WOW

2.9 out of 5

Magill’s

3214 Road 68
Pasco, WA 99301
(509) 547-6448

Open Mon-Thu 8am-8pm; Fri-Sat 7am-9pm; Sun 7am-8pm
See more reviews of Magill’s
The owner recommends sending unsatisfactory food back. We disagree in most cases. Never send food back, it may come back tainted. Why should a customer have to guide the quality of the presentation? (that’s what reviews are for.)

Sebs:

Upon entering Magill’s restaurant you get a real “home”y feel, and as with some homes you walk in and think, “it looked much bigger from the outside”. We ordered fried pickles as an appetizer, half cajun half regular they weren’t too bad but not that good either. Cajun had too much seasoning.

The Caesar salad was acceptable,  I ordered an open faced hot beef sandwich which was also acceptable. Honestly, the gravy saved the sandwich because alone the beef had little flavor. The mashed potatoes were home made but couldn’t tell if the veggies were fresh or frozen and were a little under cooked to my liking.

The service was very good, we got our meals in a timely manner and my pepsi didn’t end up empty until the server brought me a new cup. I didn’t order dessert so I can’t rate on that,
Ratings are on a 0-5 scale (5 being the highest).

  • Service – 4
  • Taste – 2
  • Caesar – 3
  • Experience – 3
  • Dessert – n/a
  • Overall – 3

Webs:

Though the overall experience was acceptable, I am not likely to end up at Magill’s any time soon. While everything about it is appealing: vast menu; nice location; inviting atmosphere, certain elements seem forced and misplaced.

Though I enjoyed the Caesar salad, it was over too fast; probably the lightest serving of iceberg and romaine lettuce in the Tri-Cities with the exception of the hotel eateries.

When dining for the first time at any establishment, I usually order one of the high dollar items as I have determined that if they can’t master what they want you to pay a lot for, the rest is probably not incredible.

Be aware that the steaks are not cooked over fire; I ordered a rib steak and was disappointed with the flat grill or “pan-fried” condition. The mashed potatoes were the highlight of the meal and the peach pie dessert was excellent.

Sebs’ assessment of service is much more forgiving than mine. Wait staff should be expected bare minimum to keep beverage glasses filled. I lost out in this area; apparently filling up the pepsi glass comes more readily than the coffee mug.

 

Ratings are on a 0-5 scale (5 being the highest).

  • Service – 2
  • Taste – 2
  • Caesar – 3
  • Experience – 3
  • Dessert – 4
  • Overall – 2.8

See more reviews of Magill’s