Atlanta-based hip-hop artist and producer Nexgod, along fellow artists Blizm and JL presides over what can be called protest tune with an old world grace and steely strength that feels oddly calming in these uniquely turbulent times. Given how unorthodox 2016 has been and how much more unorthodox it became after Election Day on November 8th, we need someone to keep reminding us of the importance of continuing to fight. Nexgod knows his duty to educate and inspire the public, and “The Universe” is a track that sets out to achieve just that.
Backed by Blu Skale Management, “The Universe” is a product of its time, reflective of the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality and an election that has left America divided.
The release also joins similarly politically charged and socially inspiring records from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, and D’Angelo and is every part as important as the rest of those recordings, despite the single’s lower profile.
“The Universe” is a welcome breath of fresh air in a hip hop and RnB scene filled with mumble rap, 808s and singers trying to recreate the T R A P S O U L sound. Much like Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, there is no attempt to make current-sounding music. Instead, it’s centered on quality music with a focus on current events.
Nexgod is not talking about being the toughest guy in the room or being able to steal your girl. Instead, he’s educating, which is what I feel a lot more rappers should be doing. Nexgod’s pen game also comes through very strong on this project.
For example, in the opening lines after the husky and soulful JL vocal hook, he switches up the rhyme scheme in a way that really draws your attention to his words.
Perpetually underrated R&B singer JL makes her appearance on the track count, being deployed to add a bit of soulful serenity to Nexgod’s message of mobilization. A true utility player, JL adds both a spiritual hum and a resilient battle cry on “The Universe”.
Blizm honorably throws his lot in too, dropping knowledge in a heartfelt and skillful way which allows the listener to both learn and be entertained. All this is delivered over a smooth piano-driven soundscape sustained by equally dominating percussion.
There will be plenty of important political and social conscious rap coming in the near future, no doubt – events in 2016 has set the table for that – but it is unlikely that much of it will match the cohesion and clarity of Nexgod’s vision on “The Universe”, or be performed in such a laid-back and unforced manner.
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