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Nocando – Tits N’ Explosions

Nocando – Tits N’ Explosions

nocando tits n explosions Nocando   Tits N ExplosionsNocando – Tits N’ Explosions
Hellfyre Club: 2013

2010 was a banner year for a particular subset of Los Angeles hip-hop. It brought the release of Nocando’s Jimmy the Lock and Open Mike Eagle’s Unapologetic Art Rap—two debuts that delivered pure auditory fun, and promised great things to come. Open Mike’s “Unapologetic” was probably the standout track of these two records. On this song, Eagle and Nocando traded hilarious verses over a propulsive, buzzing beat. On the hook, Open Mike rapped: “I won’t apologize for it/ This is not a bunch of ravings but a bunch of black man’s art,” and Nocando followed with: “I promise the status quo will never be my friend/ And I promise the way it is will never be again.” Three years later, the song still sounds like a forceful, definitive mission statement.

Open Mike Eagle followed Unapologetic Art Rap with strong records in 2011 and 2012, but the wait for Nocando’s proper sophomore LP has been more of a trial. Not to imply that James McCall has been slacking, of course—later in 2010 the Low End Theory resident dropped a release with DJ Nobody as Bomb Zombies; 2011 brought his collaboration with Busdriver as Flash Bang Grenada; and last year he gave us the free Zero Hour EP. The former battle rapper also oversees the Hellfyre Club imprint at Alpha Pup Records (which released one of this year’s highlights in Milo’s beautiful Things that Happen at Day / Night EPs), and hosts the weekly Shots Fired podcast with music scribe Jeff Weiss. All of which brings us to Tits N’ Explosions—not the long-awaited follow-up to Jimmy the Lock, but a free eleven song mixtape that Nocan put out this week.

Tits N’ Explosions begins and ends with two of the best tracks Nocando has released yet. On opener “I Guess So”, McCall spits a string of great non sequiturs over a big, driving electronic beat. On the hook, a female vocalist speak-sings: “You’ve changed baby/ You used to be cool,” and Nocando concedes (seemingly without concern): “I guess so.”

Nocando closes the tape with the title track. One might expect a fun-filled romp from a song called “Tits N’ Explosions”, but instead he’s given us a bleak, seamy tale about contentious lust and damaged romance, featuring a great back-and-forth with a female vocalist. It’s a perfect union of music and content—the beat “works itself up into a tiny fit of violence” (to borrow a phrase from the lyric) as the situation between the song’s narrator and his lover/antagonist goes to shit.

Nocando sounds sharp and driven throughout Tits N’ Explosions, and he’s backed by a strong set of productions, from the jagged 8-bit electronics of “More Credit” and “Where’s the Money?” (which was released as a single late last year) to the elegant string-sampling “Secrets” and the claustrophobically minimal “You Know”. He delivers an entirely sung (and auto-tuned) vocal on “No Romance”, and sounds pretty good doing it. “No Sweat” and “All Over A Bitch”, which were both teased online over the past few weeks, are solid bangers with a lot of grit. With “Last But Not Least”—the prettiest song on the tape, and perhaps the best track overall—Nocando has written three sketches of contemporary life (including his own), and the overwhelming weight of financial demands and self-imposed expectations for success.

Nocando is a charismatic and likable artist, and Tits N’ Explosions is another good addition to his oeuvre. It’s been fun to follow his development over the past few years—he’s broadened his range and expanded what he does as a songwriter. As we continue to wait for that second album (which should hopefully appear sometime before 2013 is out), it’s worth noting that he’s mostly lived up to that promise of three years ago, when he said “the way it is will never be again.”

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3.5 out of 5