Bankruptcy happens “Gradually and then suddenly”, that’s how Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises put it. The same can be said for fame – on the rare instances it happens. One chips away, working harder and harder, slowly and steadily gaining the most minute of reputations amongst a small and somewhat remote group, then it all happens at once. For 070 Shake, real name Danielle Balbuena, that moment occurred this June.
The North Bergen, New Jersey – one of the nation’s hilliest municipalities that sits just across the Hudson from Manhattan – rapper dropped her debut EP Glitter back in March. She first gained attention on SoundCloud back in 2016, which brought her to the attention of YesJulz, who brought her to Kanye West’s GOOD Music label, where she signed that same year. And it was that signature that ended up shooting her to fame almost two years later, when she had verses smattered across Kanye’s month-long assault on listeners, including a show stealing moment on ye’s “Ghost Town,” as well as Pusha T’s Daytona and Nas’ Nasir.
Balbuena’s native, previously mentioned landscape is important, highs and lows, both man and nature made, are part of what makes her style so dynamic. It’s never quite rap and never quite R&B, and it all presents itself at full force on “Accusations”. The track opens up like bursting clouds at sunset as piano riffs cut in and out, leading to staticy drums that enter at the same moment as Shake’s arching, caramel voice.
“Double up, your love is not enough/Thank you for your accusations,” goes the chorus, building higher and bigger throughout. “Accusations” is all about peaks and valleys, and the payoffs earned at the tops and the bottoms. The verses pick up pace in the spaces between, and then suddenly, the payoff slides in, “All this time I was wrong, did it for the love/So everything that you’ve done is not enough.” Everything swells to an emotional river in the end as Shake howls the chorus a final time.
This kind of emotional sing-rap, might come off as weak in the hands of a lesser artist. Shake, instead, turns the feelings into passion and power – energy. “Gradually and then suddenly”, is how things appear to us – and maybe to Shake as well – but here, this is an artist who deserves recognition, finally receiving the praise they are due.
HURRY – LISTEN – 070 SHAKE