While the question has grown exhausting, all anybody can wonder since Pop Smoke’s death is who could become the new face of New York drill. A young contender is certainly Sha Ek; The Bronx rapper has built up a collection of hot singles and videos, building real anticipation for his debut album. But on Face of the What, Sha sets his sights higher than simple drilling or recognition in his borough. He wants to be the next big thing, the face of it all, and it amounts to one of the best albums out of the scene to date.
Fans of New York drill should be no stranger to over the top voices and flows (from Pop Smoke to, dare I mention, Yus Gz), but Sha Ek certainly has a unique one even by those standards. Shouting at breakneck speed on every track, its a wonder he can stay on beat and keep that high energy across a whole album. It allows his bars to standout over such aggressive production and adds to his entire persona.
Despite all his quality singles, some were skeptical about how this vocal style might hold up for a full project, but Face of the What is paced expertly; Relatively short songs, features, and a tight runtime allow him to shine without tiring out the listener. It would be easy to fall victim to Meek Mill syndrome otherwise.
A great pattern emerging in drill right now that Face of the What follows is a more balanced approach to production; Sha finds a balance between the traditional bangers and sliding 808s, while incorporating just enough fun samples to keep you interested, but not get as ridiculous as a Shawny Binladen for example. The intro “Who You Touch” with Bandmanrill is a great example with its subtle acoustic guitar and accelerating drums that Sha finds an impressive pocket in.
Some other highlights include “Who Punchin”, which has a nice call-and-response style hook; “Shot in the Party”, and the hit singles “Been on Hots” and “One in the Head” where Sha brings his signature, violent disses; and “Beat the Odds”‘ Bailey Bryan sample.
Sha Ek is officially an essential name in the game and this album is one of the most replayable of the year. In fact, Face of the What is more than just one of the best drill albums; It’s a proclamation of the genre’s capability to form great full lengths, and the coming out party for a bright young star.