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MP3 Trystyl - Nocab Nivek Vol. 1

Indy hiphop with a load of guest spots, production rages from funky to dark to just straight bangin

11 MP3 Songs in this album (44:27) !
Related styles: HIP-HOP/RAP: Hip Hop, HIP-HOP/RAP: Alternative Hip Hop

People who are interested in Mos Def Atmosphere Mac Lethal should consider this download.

Nocab Nivek Vol. 1

Producer-centric albums toe a hard line. If the production is too subtle, the music is easily dismissible, unremarkable and, worse yet, boring. On the other hand, if the production is too prominently featured, it overshadows the artists and becomes less about collaboration and more about thoughtless attention, the hip-hop equivalent of shouting “bomb!” in an airport.

Kansas City producer/DJ/mad scientist Trystyl has managed to find the sweet spot between these poles with Nocab Nivek Vol. 1, and the result is an album that is essentially a compendium of independent hip hop in the Kansas City area. Artists such as Approach, Ben Grim, Reach and Vertigone make spirited appearances, with the only nationally known artist being MF Doom in a brief, but much-needed, appearance on “Ghost Whirl 3.0.”

Lyrically, many of the artists address the frustrations that come with paying dues while trying to maintain their principles and individuality. Reach highlights the crooked pettiness of celebrity and the lengths people go to just to appear successful on “Fame.” Negro Scoe laments copycats on “Style Nappers.” The upbeat “Stand & Deliver” not only acknowledges Approach and Archaic Academy’s lack of radio play, but celebrates their individuality and the hidden rewards of the life that comes with it. And the hilarious secret song that follows “Stand & Deliver” is criticism of hip hop on par with Prince Paul’s 2003 song, “Politics of the Business.”

Even though frustration and criticism run throughout Nocab Nivek Vol. 1 in equal parts, the album avoids becoming a repetitive lecture or an overblown pity party. Trystyl accomplishes this by giving the artists room to address the subject matter in their own style, rather than force them to fit their music around a beat. The result feels less like a collection of songs and more like vignettes, highlighting each artist’s strengths without glossing over their faults.

On the production side, Nocab Nivek Vol. 1 is sturdy, if familiar. “Operator” features the same sped-up soul vocals Kanye West made a staple of since his early days. “KCHUSTLE” is reminiscent of early RJD2 or DJ Shadow, and “Ghost Whirl 3.0” sounds like early U.N.K.L.E., all the way down to the riff-heavy breakdown late in the song.

But Trystyl’s sense of melody, rhythm and layering is strong throughout, and he’s able to create some inspiring moments during the album’s 11 songs. The revisionist “Fame” is instantly recognizable, but still memorable for its own merits, and “My Shoulders” packs layers of rhythm on top of reggae guitars, organ and a beautiful sample from which the song takes its name, creating a lush soundscape.

Nocab Nivek Vol. 1 is a quintessential primer on Kansas City hip hop that isn’t Tech N9ne. And while its production is never ahead of the curve and its songs are sometimes disconnected from one another, it’s a balanced collaboration between the artists and the producer, a celebration of hip hop and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. An accomplishment in its own right.
— trevan mcgee { ink }

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