Yes, The Niceguys are based in Houston, but don’t let this fool you; there’s nothing pop-lock-and-droppin’ about this thoroughbred hip-hop crew. The Niceguys make it evident from the title-track opener of their full-length offering, The Show, that this is not going to be an exercise in frivolous nursery rhymes. There is something very genuine about The Niceguys, whose core aim is to entertain and have fun with energetic hip-hop.
Following the title of the album, The Show actually plays out much like an actual hip-hop show. There is a brief introduction that leads right into the party-starter, “Toast”. Although the sing-songy hooks leave a bit to be desired, the production is full-throttle, and prepares the listener for the remainder of the album. The album concludes with the appropriately titled, “Curtains”.
And, much like many hip-hop concerts that don’t venture far from the traditional, there are ups and downs in The Show. The Niceguys thrive under a verse-hook-verse structure, and it is on this basis that much of the album is built. Therefore, when the hooks are strong, the tracks tend to follow suit. Take “Things Ain’t The Same” for example; the hook is catchy, but doesn’t overwhelm or detract from the superb lyrics being delivered as the emcees wax poetic about loves lost. It’s one of the many tracks on The Show that unveils the multi-faceted persona of The Niceguys.
At the same time, The Niceguys are clever. From a production standpoint, they rely on heavy drums and thumping basslines. Tracks are layered with smooth grooves, such as on the mellow “Cave”, which sheds light on the backwards politics of the inner-city (perhaps better known as the code of the streets?). Lyrically, they can drop lines that are insightful directly alongside topically comical lines relevant to modern technology. Check the Tumblr mention in “Die Later”.
However, The Niceguys do play it safe throughout The Show. There is no truly innovative progression here, which holds the album back from being terrific. Although Yves is certainly a talented emcee, his rhymes play by the rules, sometimes painfully so (rare, but still). Furthermore, the beats are standard. At their best they are certified bangers, perfectly suited for a party atmosphere or a summer night joyride. At their worst, the beats are fair – rough around the edges and uninspired.
All in all, there is more than enough worthy content here to make The Show an engaging and enjoyable listen, and The Niceguys a formidable group in the new age of hip-hop. There are numerous bright moments indicating that The Niceguys have a strong future ahead of them.