Okay let’s get this out of the way first. This album doesn’t deserve less than 5 stars. It’s a flat out feel-good musical masterpiece. While lyrically it goes down deep, it is far from being depressingly heavy-handed when tacking life’s issues. Instead it is liberatingly uplifting. People that say Hip-hop is dead, clearly haven’t listened to New Jersey Hip Hop artist, nonSense, on his latest album – “Xscape Velocity”. The core theme of this project is described as a narrative that “examines what it means to escape from things that hold you back in life. It contemplates the cognitive dissonance of leaving something that made you who you are in order to become who you are supposed to be.” The cohesion of the album is largely guaranteed by the fact that 13 of the 14 tracks is produced by Jad Abstrock while the other one was taken care of by Wil Madden. Hence this recording is airtight in its intent and execution with all elements being on the same page, from start to finish.
The creative, nonSense, was born and raised in the hard streets of Newark, New Jersey. Raised in a single parent household, he endured and overcame hardships. He soon found solace in writing poetry, and in the sound of music – the latter being a trait he picked up from his mother.
He chose the name “nonSense”, aiming to create music that compelled the listener to dig deeper in order to reveal the message behind the words. nonSense is without a doubt one of the most soulful hip-hop artists we have out their currently. He’s definitely in his own lane and I can appreciate that.
The sequencing of the album, and the depth of the lyrics are proof of nonSense’s artistry and craft. He successfully builds on his previous work and progresses his own flow and production style on an album that will hit every emotion. Able to create his vision he has delivered an impassioned and introspective, yet outspoken piece of art.
It’s a rare feat, but nonSense has delivered a project that explores the struggles and an assortment of issues and topics that strongly impact lives. Every song leads you to the next, and will have your attention from beginning to end.
The album is enthralling on a sonic level, but nonSense keeps up lyrically, his flow more than malleable enough to fit with the soulful retro grooves that kick in from the opening track, “Black Boy”. From social injustices to crippling insecurities, the track gives uncomfortable insight into nonSense’s frustrations.
That message is coupled by “Night”, a gut-wrenching, stream-of-consciousness account of more social burdens. In between the two, “Block Party” will get your butt moving and your head nodding. There’s no question that “Xscape Velocity” is a massive listen, lyrically.
Elsewhere, on “Breakfast”, “Corner Store” and “Last Night”, as he effortlessly knocks out smooth, fast-paced verses with finesse, nonSense’s flow makes these tracks sound so nostalgically classic. It’s on “Magic Moment”, produced by Wil Madden, where the music switches its tone.
At this point, the album takes a dramatic shift in sound. “Praise” jumps out in anthemic style, with nonSense’s delivery taking on an edgy and urgent attitude. “Gang” keeps the high energy momentum and the aggression going. Until “Wonderful Life” once again flips the sonic coin. Bringing in a ton of melody in an upbeat swing that will sweep you off your feet.
There are genre defining moments at certain points in any artistic era where one feels that a particular artist is committing himself to something that just feels right. Listening to the smooth and uplifting soulful grooves of the final 4 tracks on this album – Especially on “Last Night In Newark”, where nonSense excels with his lyrical flow – that moment feels like now for him.
“Xscape Velocity” is going to go down as one of the best releases in 2018, when the end of the year lists start rolling out for many blogs. nonSense is probably evolving into everything that he looked up to as a kid in Newark.