Jimmy the Lock
With Timbaland currently adjusting his Autotune settings (come on, man, you’re better than that) and Jay-Z busy banning said plug-in, someone needs to push radio-friendly hip-hop back to where it should be: a genre that, with every subsequent record, focuses as much on pushing new sounds and experimental rhythmic matters up a notch as making your head nod – and providing those “oh man, he said that?!” moments.
While Nocando isn’t yet a household name or the sole champion of a hip-hop Renaissance, his debut, Jimmy The Lock, proves that he’s more than capable with these duties. Sure, he can boast with the best (i.e. “That starving artist shit died in oh-eight” from “Hurry Up and Wait”), but as noted on Nosaj Thing’s click-snap-bit-reduce-wiggling-synth-produced opener, “Head Static,” he prefers to follow ideas such as “Whenever I walk it’s on pins and needles / I can’t go a day without offending people” with the puzzling “I wanna go to heaven just to fuck a angel / I said it to myself while I was bussin’ tables.” As DJ Nobody’s beat slams as hard as any b-boy jam, NCD discusses the West Side as a spot for picking up rehab ladies, settling on a haunt near Best-Buy with “all the cool black nerds, yeah those are my people.” He will talk about guns, but the situation ends with him on the bathroom floor, masturbating with one hand, a pistol in the other, crying to a picture of his soon-to-be ex. (“Flight Risk”).
This balance between odd and accepted idiosyncrasy makes the album a delight; and the production line, a throng of Daddy Kev’s Low End Theory talent, is equally terrific at this role. Daedelus mixes together a tricky blend of Rhodes, string samples and lilting folk vocals for the R. Kelly homage, “Skankophelia.” Kovert Live’s instrumental mastermind, Maestroe, brings the big beat and growling bass to transform a fey title such as “Exploits and Glitches” into a sneering, thuggish stomp.
While many indie echelon rappers spend their lyrics on boo hoo rants about their underground status, Jimmy the Lock is Nocando’s way of saying, “I’m already here, doing the damned thing. Take note.”