Remember those kids that were just too damn cool back in school? These are the kids that don’t even need to fit in – they belong to a category outside of the social hierarchy. That’s Danielle Balbuena, AKA 070 Shake. She barely has a presence online, many people know her either for her collaborations with Kanye West or her relationship with Kehlani, and interviews with the artist are sparse. However, she doesn’t need to be in the public eye to shine. Her music emits a light that brights more than anything could. 070 Shake’s most recent album, You Can’t Kill Me, proves it.
You Can’t Kill Me succeeds 070 Shake’s debut album, Modus Vivendi. If I could describe her sophomore album in one word, it’d be freedom. Describing the meaning behind her album title in an interview with High Snobiety, she states, “I see life as if it already happened. Whatever happens, it happened. I can’t change it.wp_posts070 Shake embraces the infinite; she stands up to all the right and wrong she’s done and what others have done. She doesn’t bound herself to a single genre and pushes the envelope of rap, alternative, and pop. Her instrumentals are subject to bold shifts, from synthetic to acoustic, to fully encapsulate the complexities of the relationships and emotions she’s conveying.
In “History,wp_posts070 Shake contemplates human collectiveness and transcending the physical world:
“The stardust in me/
In my DNA/
That makes me a star/
That means we all are/
And when we reunite/
We become the sun/
The world becomes one.”
One of her leading singles, “Skin and Bones,wp_postsis arguably one of her most vulnerable tracks because it’s a declaration of love. She bares her soul to her partner:
“Reminisce ’bout back when our spirits used to dance with each other/
You treat me like I’m more than a pair of skin and bones/
And that really made a difference in my story.”
Mistakes and faults are owned up to in “Come Back Home.wp_posts070 Shake apologizes to her mother and tells her that she has sinned. She’s fucked over people and she’s fucked over herself. Instead of wallowing, laying out the multiplicity of her character is exactly what allows her to be unrestrained.
My favorite song is “Cocoon.wp_postsIt’s a high-energy, frenzied track that demonstrates 070 Shake’s fearlessness when it comes to her production. She sings about flowers blooming, smoke rising, and coming out like she’s “nine months pregnantwp_posts(that’s also one of my favorite lines in the album). This is who she is, and everyone has no choice but to deal with it. This is her world, we’re just visitors in it.
You Can’t Kill Me also experiments with the erotic. In “Body,wp_postsa track featuring Christine and the Queens, 070 Shake sensually tells her lover, “Talk to me with your body.wp_postsI don’t know about y’all, but that line alone traveled through my entire being. 070 Shake has always been casual about her queerness and isn’t boxed into “the traditional gender binary” and heterosexuality. Her queerness is simply a fragment of who she is, and displaying her sexual side is a dimension of the freedom and openness established in You Can’t Kill Me.
You Can’t Kill Me does exactly what it intended to do, show how unstoppable 070 Shake is. She saw the far universes that music can take us and went beyond. Yeah, she doesn’t belong to any particular categories. But that’s the best part about her artistry.