R Life / What U Really Needed


“Just about a year ago my laptop was stolen at a show in NY. I lost an album I was working on and learned my lesson the hard way.
This is one of the tracks I recovered. It features some good friends of mine Brandon Mitchell (Kadence) and Carlos Garcia (L05) on vocals.
I didn't feel it was right for my next release but wanted you all to have it.
Hope u enjoy <3 Shi” - May 30, 2013

Two weeks before the announcement of No Better Time Than Now, Zach released two songs, recovered from the album that would have been the follow-up to 2012’s Lineage. The songs hint an entirely different, R&B-influenced direction the third Shigeto LP could have taken.


“R Life” features UK Garage influenced rhythms and sounds, while “What U Really Needed” is minimally produced, with vibey jazz chords.

Does anyone else wonder where Shigeto’s career would have gone, should the post-Lineage album have been successfully finished, and released? There are too many possibilities, too many questions to ponder. There are conceptual and stylistic similarities to songs that would be released down the road: “R Life” & “What U Really Needed” feature hip-hop MCs (Kadence & L05) performing in non-traditional roles, ala The New Monday’s “Barry White.” There’s a more organic sound, which would appear in the collaborations with Marcus Elliot & Ian Fink as the Shigeto Live Ensemble. The programming is more refined, a clear step forward to the nuanced productions on NBTTN.


In wondering what the lost LP would have sounded like, we have one additional document from this (brief) time period, Shigeto’s “Rock The Boat” Remix, released in January, 2012. The remix has an undeniably similar production as “R Life,” with an upload date to Soundcloud that matches the recording period of the lost LP.


Photo by Anthony Ciannamea

The concept of tragic irony, in literary terms, is we, as an an audience, can watch a life unfold–or a musical career, as if it were a play already written, with a certain resignation to fatalism. We have the ability to look at these two songs with the knowledge of No Better Time Than Now, the dive into Detroit’s DJ culture, the serendipitous meeting with ZelooperZ–countless moments that would only develop following the relocation to Detroit: we have a verifiable hit in “Detroit Part 1,” the absolute banger “Ringleader,” a song named after Ritual Howls, the forever haunting “Olivia.” There’s also a sense of gallows humor in the story of the stolen laptop: the lost third album was the last output to be written & produced in Shigeto’s adopted Brooklyn, and the computer was taken after performing at his home venue, Glasslands, at a going away party. Moving to Detroit, Shigeto had to start from scratch, evolving in a way only a hard lesson can teach.




R Life / What U Really Needed, released on May 30, 2013.

Written and produced by Zachary Shigeto Saginaw
Recorded on Franklin St.
Artwork by Shigeto


01. R Life (feat. Brandon Mitchell and Carlos Garcia)
02. What U Really Needed (feat. Brandon Mitchell and Carlos Garcia)


Not On Label (Shigeto Self-released), 2013-05-30




“R Life (Live on KEXP)”
Recorded September 27, 2013
Host: Alex Ruder
Audio Engineer: Julian Martlew
Cameras: Jim Beckmann, Scott Holpainen & Justin Wilmore
Editor: Justin Wilmore

See also


No Better Time Than Now
The third Shigeto album

The No Better Time Than Now Singles: Detroit, Part 1, Ringleader & Olivia (Seams Remix)

The follow-up EP to No Better Time Than Now, a transition period of Shigeto’s work with Dave Douglas, Shigeto’s work with ZelooperZ as ZGTO, and The New Monday