In an era when everyone and their neighbor has access to song-creating software, no one needs to listen to milquetoast-bland-beats devoid of interesting variations, progressions or juxtapositions. Detroit producer 14KT offers his largely instrumental Nickel & Dimed with this reality clearly in mind. A skilled cultivator of multiple styles, he attempts to preemptively address listener criticisms that all his beats sound the same by building them with seemingly dissimilar sounds. Unfortunately, by cramming multiple different aesthetics into his tracks, he delivers a stammering disc of seizuring paroxysms.
It is no easy task to retain a listener’s interest with hip-hop tracks devoid of any singer or rapper. 14KT is wise to recognize this, and clearly wants to avoid an album that prattles on with un-dynamic stretches of monotonous boom-bap that are impossible to differentiate from one-another. Sadly his layering of often conflicting noises makes for a disjointed and distracting project. For example, the spastic synths that zip and dart like an android dragonfly in need of Adderall on “Streaming” interrupt the track’s soulful crooning and clean, tribal drum thumps. Similarly, “Your Future” weaves a serene flute under hiccuping laser effects with all the grace and fluidity of an elephant trunk grafted onto a peacock. Sadly such inappropriate mish-mashings litter the album.
More baffling than the collision of disparate sonic themes, however, is the inclusion of faulty audio clips. It’s obnoxious when an artist sprinkles his/her release with skits and vocal interludes destined for the recycling bin, but when these tiresome threads of dialogue are woven into songs and thus require a thumb on the fast-forward button, it’s even worse. 14KT goes a step further in irritating his listener by selecting laughably unfit slices of dialogue. I’ve pondered in vain for any explanation as to why a hip-hop album should ever feature a snippet of “Old McDonald Had a Farm”. And even though it’s entertaining once, there is no reason anyone would want repeated listens of a news report detailing a gunfight that broke out over competing Kool-Aid recipes.
Nickel and Dimed is certainly has its merits. 14KT channels Dr. Dre at his most menacing with the haunting keys on the banging “Go There”, and West Coast oddball Kokane lends his off-kilter crooning to the endearing “W.C.E.F”, which features a serviceable assist by rapper MED. When he lets his beats stay in their lane and keep to a single sound, they provide suitable backing for verses from fan-favorites Blu, Back Milk and AB on the five vocal-laced tracks.
Whether you hope this album will provide appropriate cipher inspiration, instigate headphone head-nodding or serve as party-starting backdrop, you will likely be disappointed. 14KT clearly has a solid command of how to identify and execute different styles, but in his quest to avoid monotony he makes poor combination decisions; it’s like deeming a frozen pizza too plain, and solving the problem by coating it with peanut butter and mayonnaise.
3 out of 5
You can purchase Nickel & Dimed on Amazon.