This album was released on May 31st this year. Nems is one of those rappers who I’ve been familiar with for a long time, but I didn’t actually check out his work until recently. Before I heard this project, I went back and listened to his first and second albums from 2010 & 2011, as well as his EP from 2013. I think he dropped another album in 2015, but I skipped it. I was really shocked by how much I ended up loving his first album, Prezident’s Day. Unfortunately, the other projects I listened to from him failed to live up to the standard he set with that first project, but I still enjoyed the second album to an extent. The EP I heard was mediocre, but there were a few songs I liked from it. This album in particular is the first album he’s dropped in years. I only saw a little bit of discussion surrounding it, but the people who heard it seemed to really love it, so I was looking forward to it. Every beat on the project was made by a producer who goes by the name of Jazzsoon.
1. Step Aside
First of all, the production on this track is really fantastic. The primary loop sounds like something I’d hear in a Horrorcore track, and the percussion is super gritty. I love the beat. Nems’ rapping on this song is really good. His delivery seems to switch between him and his old self. It’s like he traveled back in time and recorded a song in which he was trading bars with the past version of himself. The song isn’t very long. It’s just one quick verse. It’s under 130 seconds long. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Again, the production is stellar, and Nems did his thing. In fact, the whole album is super well produced. I wasn’t familiar with that Jazzsoon guy prior to hearing it, but I was really impressed by him. I hope to hear more work from him in the future. This song is dope.
2. Where You Know Me From? featuring Conway the Machine
This song really jumped out at me when I initially read the tracklist for obvious reasons. Conway the Machine is my favorite gangsta rapper out right now, so I was really excited for his verse. I thankfully wasn’t disappointed at all. The production on this track is amazing. It’s super dusty. I love it. Nems isn’t really as threatening to me as Conway, but he’s still really hard. I guess that’s not necessarily saying much because Conway is literally the most threatening rapper of all time to me. The only dude who comes close in my opinion is Prodigy, but Conway is the only rapper who I would be genuinely afraid of if I was in the same room as him. I think I said that before when I reviewed one of the projects he dropped this year. But yeah, the first verse from Nems was really great. The hook on this track is pretty simplistic, but it gets the job done. It works. Conway’s verse was amazing. I swear that dude can do no wrong. I love everything he does.
Left him laid out, front of the liquor store
Seen his brains hit the window, said “that’s it, for sure”
I got the rap game in a figure-four
Top 10 verses of the year, I got like six or more
There’s a beat switch right after Conway finishes his verse, and it’s f****** glorious. I literally said “OOOOOOOOH” out loud the first time I heard it. Nems f****** snapped on that last verse too. He had a line where he said he would “shoot you in front of your b**** like Abe Lincoln.” Overall, this is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. I think it’s amazing.
3. Timb Boots
I think this song is dope, but it’s definitely one of the weaker tracks on the album in my opinion. Once again, the production is fantastic. However, it’s almost completely panned to the left for whatever reason. I’m not really sure why they thought that was a good idea. It doesn’t ruin the song, but it is a little irritating. The simplistic hook is kinda weak, but it’s definitely not bad enough to ruin the song. The first verse from Nems contains an amazing Mortal Kombat reference. The second verse is even better. The final verse oddly ends far earlier than I would’ve expected it to, and then there’s just an awkward silence while the beat keeps playing. He eventually comes back in to sing an outro where he says “Wake up, Lil Uzi.” I’m not sure what that was about. Maybe he was literally telling his uzi to wake up. I don’t know. Anyway, the song is pretty dope. Obviously I had some issues with it, but overall I enjoyed it quite a bit. I f*** with this one.
This song has another super dark, gritty beat. I love how violent some of the bars on this track are. The entire song seems to be a diss towards wack Soundcloud rappers and xanax addicts. The hook is very simplistic, but it serves its purpose. I don’t really have any major gripes with this track, which is why I don’t have much to say. It’s just two very lyrically aggressive & confrontational verses over a dark, grimy beat. You know what would’ve been the icing on the cake? There should’ve been some record scratches during the hook. That would’ve sounded perfect. The song is still really great as it is though. I think it’s dope af.
This song has another really good beat. The production isn’t as dark as that of the other songs on the album, but it’s still pretty dusty and traditional sounding. It actually almost sounds like an Apollo Brown beat. Lyrically, the song is all about Nems’ place in the Hip Hop industry. The hook is pretty straightforward, but it’s not quite as lazy as some of the other hooks on the album. He mentions some near-death experiences in the second verse, which was really great.
You won’t find too many rappers nice like this
But you know how many nights I thought to slice my wrists?
You know how many nights I was inches from dying?
Runnin’ round in them streets while mama home crying?
Took my life, did a complete 180
I’m as real as they come, so how the f*** could you hate me?
The opening lines in the final verse were probably my favorite part of the whole song. They’re just really relatable.
I don’t party; that’s how you get hit, n****
Rather stay home & write than politic with b**** n*****
The lines about how he doesn’t drink or smoke would’ve been more relatable for me before I started college, but I still appreciated it. I guess I’m technically straight edge right now. It’s been a while since I was inebriated. However, given the opportunity, I would get stoned as f*** without hesitation. I really liked how he rapped about ending his drug use. In his previous work he made it clear that he used to struggle with addiction, and in this last verse he said that he thought abstaining from drugs would stifle his creativity, but that thankfully wasn’t the case for him. On the contrary, “everything got better.” That’s good to hear. I really f*** with this song. It’s dope af.
6. Lil N*****
This song has one of the better instrumentals on the album in my opinion. It’s super dark & gritty. I love it. I’m not crazy about the intro on this song, but it’s not that bad. I really love how contagious Nems’ energetic delivery is on this track. The first verse was dope. Unfortunately, the hook on this song is f****** terrible. It’s easily the worst aspect of the entire album. It’s not bad enough to completely ruin the song for me, but it definitely tarnishes it. It’s literally just him saying “y’all n***** is itty bitty bitty itty bitty bitty itty bitty bitty bitty itty bitty bitty itty bitty bitty bitty bitty bitty bitty bitty bitty bitty bitty bitty lil n*****.” Yes, he literally says it that many times. It’s not good at all. It’s tolerable though I guess. The rest of the song is so good that I have to tolerate it. The second verse is insane.
Hulkomania, Lion King: hold a baby up
FYL: f*****’ your lady then suckin’ her labia
Then bounce before she’s going into labor, WHAT?
The beat switches up right after this line and it’s f****** awesome. I love how dusty the percussion is. He has a line about sticking an ice pick in your girlfriend’s booty hole. S*** is crazy. I’m pretty sure his “ice pick” is supposed to be a metaphor for his c***. So yeah, I f*** with the song. The hook is absolutely terrible, but it’s not wack enough to completely ruin the song for me. Overall, I think this is pretty good.
7. Who Got Ya?
This song has a very prominent sample of Who Shot Ya? by The Notorious B.I.G. It’s virtually the same beat. There seems to be a slight pitch shift though, and the percussion is way harder. I love how dusty and hard-hitting the drums sound. This is another one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s a pretty short track. The whole thing is just one amazing verse. This line in particular is mad disrespectful.
Look at all the the s*** that I give to you
And I expect nothing in return
I’ll body you, f*** your b****, and nut inside your urn
I almost choked on my drink when he said that s***. There are a s*** ton of quotable lines in this song. He said something like “I could f*** the industry raw-dog like Usher & Let It Burn.” I love how hostile he is on this track. This n**** even threatened to ether his own son in a rap battle.
Now I see my son’s copying my blueprint
Boogie-boarding my wave; acting like I’m stupid
Well, listen, Duke; I’m happy I could inspire you
Just know the day we go face to face, I will retire you
Fire you, broken jaw wire you, expire you
S*** is wild, man. He f****** spazzed on this track. The entire verse is just an onslaught of quotable lines.
These dudes think hustling is sending out a tweet
She with my givin’ toppy while you dm her your meat
Homie, you a creep, you a weirdo, you a freak
Jumpin’ crew to crew, that just shows me that you weak
I’m out here with the fans takin’ pictures for the ‘gram in the streets
While you dyin’ your dirty dreads with bleach
I have no gripes with this track. He slaughtered this s***. It’s dope af.
This track is just a pointless interlude. The production is pretty cool, but it’s not good enough for me to wanna hear this again. Maybe I’d come back to it if it wasn’t covered up by an audio clip of an uninteresting conversation. I’m never gonna listen to this again.
9. 200 featuring Spit Gemz
This is another one of the best songs on the album. It has another fantastic beat, and the chemistry exhibited by Nems & Spit Gemz is downright impeccable. The way they’re trading bars on this track is amazing. They’re effortlessly trading one line at a time throughout the majority of the song, and it’s super impressive. It’s really top tier rapping. I feel like the rapping got progressively better as this album progressed, which is really saying a lot because it was already top notch stuff on the very first song. I really don’t know how I’m gonna choose a favorite track from this album because this song is amazing, and there are so many other tracks on this project that are just as good. For the last minute or so of the song, Nems & Spit Gemz each perform their own verses, and they both f****** snap. Again, the rapping on this song is absolutely stellar. I have zero gripes with this song. It’s dope af.
10. Heavy Metal
This is another one of my favorite songs on the album. Jazzsoon flipped a super obscure Nas song that appeared on a Funkmaster Flex mixtape in the late 90s. It’s pretty much a recreation of that song. Nems f****** snapped on this track too. He rhymed his a** off. Lyrically, he pretty much gave his whole history as a rapper. It’s a really interesting story. Every line of the song had me hooked.
The first rhymes I wrote was meant to embarrass a classmate
Fire in my eyes, I walked into school mad late
Studied Duke the whole year, waited ’til the last day
Then whooped his a** worse than if his moms saw his bad grades
I really love how stripped back this song is. They really went with a “less is more” approach with this track. The production is super simplistic. It’s barely more than a percussion loop. The drums are super dusty. It’s like a super gritty version of an 80s era instrumental. The song has a very straightforward structure as well. There are just two verses with what sounds like an off the top hook in the middle. He killed this s*** too. I love it.
Necro hit me up on MySpace, took me on tour
Saw these independent dudes was getting money galore
I got my foot in the door, no hesitation
Been clean nine years, rebuilding my reputation
Again, it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album. I have no issues with it. This s*** is dope af.
11. Leave Me Alone
In terms of content, this is definitely one of the more emotional songs on the album. It’s definitely a good song, but it’s not one of my favorites from the project. Again, the production is really good, although I did find it a little repetitive. It got kinda old after a while. In terms of the emotional content I just mentioned, this is pretty much Nems’ own version of Where Have You Been by Jay-Z. In case you couldn’t already tell, Nems is a super East Coast dude. Just on this album alone he’s flipped songs from Biggie, Nas, and now Jay. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say he’s flipping a Jay song. He didn’t use the same beat or even mention Jay at all. The content just reminded me of that song. It’s not exactly the same though because Jay’s dad intentionally left him behind. Nems’ dad just passed away unfortunately. It’s a super emotional track though, and it’s really well written.
Where was my dad to teach me how to ride a bike?
Where was you at to teach me how to win a fight?
I felt alone everyday through the night
‘Cause I been searching for a father figure all of my life
He literally sounded like he was crying in the booth as he was recording these lines. The simplistic hook is underwhelming, but it’s definitely not bad enough to ruin the song. The second verse in which he rapped about his drug addict mom going to rehab didn’t really hit me as hard as the first verse, but it was still cool. The final verse in which he raps about being alone all his life was fantastic though.
I done seen the isolation crush plenty of men
And I done lost so many times, you’d think I hated to win
But I adapted to the darkness and I made it my friend
Made an outlet for my aggression and named it Nems
See, me? I rather joke and laugh, lighten up the place
But Nems ain’t with the talking, he’ll just punch you in your face
All that anger and insecurity turned into hate
And I gotta to conquer all these demons if I wanna be great
It’s a really good song. It’s not one of the better songs sonically, but in terms of the actual content I was thoroughly entertained. This s*** is dope.
12. No Reggaeton featuring Al-Doe & Axel Leon
This is another song that stood out when I initially read the tracklist due to the feature from Al-Doe. The third review I ever wrote for this blog was for a project called The Outsiders by a collective called R.F.C., which included like 7 different n*****. Smoke DZA was the leader of the crew, and I think Chase N. Cashe was in it too. The two members that stood out the most were NymLo & Al-Doe though. I never heard anything from NymLo ever again after listening to that project, but I think I heard a track from Al-Doe that featured Dave East a couple years later. That’s it though, so this was my first time seeing his name in a while, and I was very excited because he was my favorite member of that group. If you’re wondering why you can’t find my review of The Outsiders, it’s because I deleted it. In fact, I deleted most of the first reviews I ever wrote because they were terrible. Anyway, this is yet another one of my favorite tracks on the album. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know how the f*** I’m gonna choose a favorite song from this project. The production on this track is incredible. It’s super grimy & hard-hitting. The first verse from Nems is definitely my favorite verse on the song. I feel like he probably should’ve went last because it would’ve been a great finale. That rhyme scheme he was flowing with at the start of his verse was amazing.
My s*** is proper
Hittin’ switches; pick the top up
Switch the topic
Catch me dickin’ down a bad b**** from Nicaragua
Sippin’ aqua; told the chick to pick the guap up
Stuffed the bricks into the locker
At the trap spot on Knickerbocker
That verse is absolutely stellar. The interludes between each verse are completely in Spanish, so I had no idea what the f*** that dude was saying. It had zero effect on my enjoyment of the song. It was really nice to finally hear from Al-Doe again, and his verse was just as great as I was hoping it would be. That dude is really good, and I don’t think he gets the attention he deserves, but it’s probably because he’s not as prolific as most rappers are these days. He sounds hard as f*** though. I really f*** with that dude. I’m not really familiar with this Axel Leon dude, but he had a pretty great verse. His voice kinda reminded me of Nacho Picasso. His voice also kinda reminded me of Trinidad James. He’s obviously a much better rapper than both of those dudes though. Well I guess that’s not obvious depending on your opinion of Nacho Picasso. But yeah, overall I think this track is phenomenal. I really don’t have any issues with it. This s*** is dope af.
13. Token of My Affection
I was a little concerned when I saw the tracklist for this project because this one is over 16 minutes long. It’s a regular sized song though. It just has a super long hidden outro skit. I’ll talk about the song itself and then say what I have to say about the skit after that. Anyway, this song has one of the best instrumentals on the album in my opinion. I love it. It’s more melodic and emotional sounding than almost every other beat maybe with the exception of track 11. It still has that old school boom-bap edge to it though. In terms of just the content alone, this is probably my favorite song on the album. In fact, it might actually end up being my favorite song overall. I still have to figure that out. In the first verse he reflects on his past attitude and expresses shame for some of the f***** up things he used to say in his songs.
I used to talk about rape like it was funny
And then they raped the woman that was close to me
Now I listen to those tracks and I can’t believe
That a younger me could lack such compassion and empathy
And I would probably give a kidney
Just for my female fans, they could forgive me
The younger me would probably think I was soft
But I look back at them days and I know I was lost
It was really nice to see some growth from Nems. When I listened to his older work, I got the impression that he was just as much of a dickhead as Diabolic, but this project made him seem more personable. The hook is pretty simplistic, but it works really well with the somber atmosphere of the song. That second verse though? …N****, that s*** was crazy. CRAZY! AAAAAAAGGGGHHHHH.
A little girl is waking up this morning going to her stepfather that touched her last night
And she gotta smile in front of her mother, sister and her brother
Just like everything is alright when it’s not
Baby girl, I wish I was there to make you special
I wish I was there to make him respect you
But overall I wish I could jump to that kitchen table
Sit right next to you and protect you
I’m not exactly sure who he’s talking about, but it seems like it’s someone with whom he’s really close, so I assumed it was his biological daughter. I may be wrong about that, but I’m not sure. However, as someone who was molested, this final verse on the album really resonated with me.
How could you selfishly ruin a life and diminish it?
There’s nothing more precious than a child’s innocence
All the issues that stem from mental imprisonment
How could you stand yourself and live with it?
I promise you, if I ever catch him I’ma motherf*****’ finish him
It’s a really potent finish to the album. Okay, now I’ll talk about the outro skit. Just kidding. I’m actually not gonna talk about the skit because I didn’t listen to the whole thing. I listened to the first like thirty seconds and then kinda skimmed through it to see if maybe there was a hidden song. There’s not though. I know it’s probably really disrespectful to not even listen to the skit that he included, but I really have no desire to listen to that s***. I’m sure super hardcore fans of Nems will appreciate it, but I’m not interested. What I heard made it seem like he was basically just having a conversation about how he started his career in Hip Hop. But yeah, the song itself is amazing. I love it.
This album is amazing. It’s one of the best albums I’ve heard all year. I’m really f****** glad that I started listening to Nems and gave this project a chance because I love it. There’s not a single track that I’m not f*****’ with, and it’s one of those albums where I have serious difficulty choosing a favorite song. The production from Jazzsoon is absolutely superb, and Nems is operating in tip-top condition. There was emotionally gripping content, aggressive battle oriented lyrics, and exciting collaborations. It’s pretty much a boom-bap purist’s dream album. There are no melodies, no sung hooks, no autotune, no Trap-based hi-hats, etc. It’s just top-notch traditional Hip Hop. I really wasn’t expecting it to be this good. It’s definitely my favorite project from Nems. Between this and the Dope KNife album, I have no idea how I’m gonna choose a favorite album from May.
The one major gripe I have has more to do with Nems himself than this particular album. You see, Nems is half white and half Puerto Rican. That’s right. He’s not black at all. You probably already know where I’m going with this. I mean, there’s a song on here called Lil N*****. He’s from New York, so, just like all the Brooklyn Latinos, I guess he assumes he has the right to use a black racial slur. Obviously it didn’t ruin the album for me since I still love it so much, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t rub me the wrong way. He’s one of those artists whose name I have to put an asterisk next to because I really don’t appreciate his use of that word. I guess I’d have to throw him in the bucket with artists like Fat Joe, Big Pun, 6ix9ine, etc. The actual music is undeniable though, so I’m still a big fan of this record. This s*** is dope af to me.