Los Angeles’ own Nocando must have decided that when he was creating Jimmy The Lock (Alpha Pup) that he was going to go against the indie grain and eschew the ‘I’m broke as a joke and it ain’t funny’ shtick in favor of experimentation and inventive rapping. And he does so to his merit, giving this 12-song debut a potent dose of charisma without overdoing it or relying on zaniness.
On “Head Static” Nocando sounds at home over Nosaj Thing’s synth-burping backdrop, bouncing all over the song while not losing an ounce of clarity. “I wanna go to heaven just to fuck an angel/I said to myself while I was busing tables”, Nocando throws out while explaining his struggle of getting to where he is with his music. A bit distorted? Sure, but this is Hip Hop we’re talking about.
Joined by Busdriver on “Two Track Mind”, Nocando explains what two things are on his mind more often than not (like I said, this is Hip Hop so take a guess) then trades eccentricities with Iron Mike Eagle on “DSD2”. Along with Nick Diamonds’ appearance on “You Got Some Nerve” and VerBS’ showing on “I’m On”, the guest appearances add to the songs and aren’t the usual verse tacked on at the end with no real thought going into song structure.
The middle portion of the album shows commendable range of topics and sounds and is sequenced very well. These songs are the ones that hold the record together and mostly feature Nocando on his own, showcasing his ability to carry his own weight. Let it be known that the guests only add seasoning to this broth and in no way try to hide low-quality filler.
“Skankophelia” meshes soul sample chopping with trunk rattling to great effect as our guy weaves a tale of falling in love with women who clearly that don’t have a clue of their own potential.
Nocando’s voice and delivery meshes completely with each song’s music, which is uncommon on an ensemble record of this type. Varying from laid-back storytelling and imagery to high velocity nasal braggadocio reminiscent of E-40, he keeps things fresh when the music starts to run together by switching his approach. The result is a good one, since even with a production stable as diverse as this one (Thavius Beck, Nobody, Daedelus, Maestroe, Free The Robots, Th’ Corn Gangg and the aforementioned Nosaj Thing), at times the vibe can make a sequence seem like one long song. With most songs clocking in at around 3 minutes each, the short and sweet approach serves his sound well as it highlights his ability to convey variety.
Nocando is off to a good start with Jimmy The Lock. Displaying great style and a focus on solid emceeing with no distracting tricks, and a value for quality control, he may not need to credit card the deadbolt if the industry keeps leaving the window open.