If you were ever wondering where music went, well Nicolay and Kay’s concept album Time:Line (Nicolay Music) has been holding it hostage. Together they are the epitome of everything the defines true school Rap Nicolay, of Foreign Exchange fame, lays down the rhythm while Houston MC Kay brings that gritty bluesy soul that could break a man. Time:Line is a journey through one man’s struggle with life with every up comes a down and that’s a personal story anyone could relate to.
The album kicks off heavy and strong with title track “Time: Line.” But “Blizzard” is easily the best track on this album that truly shows off Nicolay’s sweeping production. The selection is a solid combination with the soul-screeching James Brown like vocals of Toby Hill and, of course, Kay’s straight to the point raps: “I was born in the snow in the age of smack / My parents paid dues, man, they marched for that / In the days of the real President Carter / With gas prices low forty cents on the dollar.”
Time:Line mirrors those aforementioned ups and downs with every song on the album. Celebrating life and all its small pleasures on “Tight Eyes;” Madlib’s younger brother Oh No makes a guest appearance on this laid back track about the easy life: “Green addiction tight, keep listening / Drink’s free before ten, but I’m a ghetto n**** / So, I’m a drink before I get in.”
And just as Nicolay’s production got you feeling high like nothing can go wrong, Kay kicks some harsh lyrics on the following track “As The Wheel Turns.” What this lacks in production value is made up for through its verbiage “She mesmerized by the three-pointed stars / Bavarian cars parallel to success that she see on the screen / But life ain’t a dream / Age twenty three, just got a degree, black and inexperienced.”
Unfortunately, the album as whole doesn’t live up to the greatness of “Blizzard.” “Grand Theft Auto” comes as a close second production wise and “I’ve Seen Rivers” reflects the same old school values seen in Kay’s lyrics. It seeems like Nicolay and Kay attempted to show their worldly side with “Gunshot;” a Bob Marley influenced song that merges steel drums with a rock guitar riff featuring Chip-Fu of the Fu-Schnickens. As a concept album, Time:Line attempts to grow just like its main character from beginning to end; however, the focus is lost on songs like “Through The Wind.”
All in all, Time:Line tells one man’s story well with a few singles taking the lead role, but as a whole falls short in achieving total greatness. And maybe the album’s tragic flaw is just that of any person; nothing’s perfect.
Nicolay & Kay
“When You Die”