The Nope – Melba
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Which is more important: quality or quantity? Well, according to Moka Only, you can have both. The multitalented rapper and producer pushes out music (under a vast array of monikers) faster than perhaps anyone else in the underground. It’s truly astonishing that his music retains its high quality standards, but this is just a testament to the creativity and vision of Moka. Not to be outdone, Psy links up with Moka (here known as Torch) to form The Nope for 2009’s full-length, Melba.
Melba is not looking to push any musical or genre boundaries, and tends to play it fairly safe throughout. Moka’s subtle beats at times border on downtempo, while chopping slick samples and bass-laden grooves. Moka’s sense of catchy melodies is present, however the emphasis on melodic, accessible tunes is downplayed, replaced instead by the intricate rhythms and percussion loops. As a result, Melba ends up sounding remarkably cohesive – almost to a fault – with short tracks (just three break the three-minute mark) with same-ish sounding synths, keys and samples. It is not hard to imagine that the album loses replay value after too many listens, and there are no obvious standout tracks. That said, the production here is still remarkably enjoyable and head nod-able for a few spins.
On the other side of the mic, emcee Psy delivers the majority of the rhymes for The Nope. Psy certainly is not an apathetic emcee, as his impressive resume with Toronto’s Oddities crew proves, however his delivery falls right into Moka’s relaxed, trudging beats. His rhymes are somewhat like a less-blunted but every bit as free-associative version of Quasimoto’s otherworldly ramblings. Every time Psy ventures into something worthwhile, he slips right back into his musings about everyday life and grayish monotony. It’s not that the rhymes themselves are poor – the structure is actually rather pristine – the content just won’t leave the listener with any true food for thought.
Melba is ultimately worth the five or so listens that it takes to wear it out. It is an enjoyable and welcome addition to this odd branch of hip-hop established by Moka and Psy. Unfortunately, their performances fall just a detail here and an insight there short of something more magnificent.