Artist: Nocturnal RonTitle: Beatlovers, Vol. 2Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Maiya Norton
Unless you have the signature sound or name-dropping privilege that a Just Blaze, the Neptunes or Swizz Beats share, stealing the attention of the masses with an instrumental album lacking headlining collaborations could be tricky. Despite the odds against him Nocturnal Ron takes listeners into his obscure sector of music on Beatlovers Vol. 2 (ColdMedina Recordings).
Prior to this album Nocturnal Ron's beats have been looming in the background on MTV shows such as "Pimp My Ride" and "Next" and other HBO and Bravo projects. Many of the 34 songs on the album are unpredictable and hard to follow but there are some pleasant surprises along the way.
Nocturnal Ron's sound ranges from Hip-Hop tracks
infused with old-school inspired samples to tracks
with a darker, almost Gothic tone. At times, the L.A. based producer resembles 9th Wonder, RZA and DJ Premier and others he teeters into a Danger Mouse likeness. On certain selection it is tough to imagine any artist over the sea of unidentifiable sounds. Songs like "1984" and "Exercise: Stretches" are an odd combination of instruments and random sound effects that would stunt even the most talented emcee's lyrical timing. Together the not-so-hot tracks make a
musical gumbo, sounding like someone is literally
banging on a keyboard. "Trying to Sleep" is a bit of a nightmare with an eerie and monotonous sample loop.
There is another side to Ron's sound, however. "Ha Wi Du" is a well-blended up-tempo track with a funky guitar that you could easily imagine Guru or Talib Kweli finessing. Ron's 90s Hip-Hop groove
continues on with "Habibi Snuck a Gun in the Disco", featuring Ali Abnormal, a mellow two-step inciting track that could have been plucked
right out of Nas' It Was Written or AZ's Aziatic. The mellow spirit of the West Coast appears on "A Universe of Clark," "Umbrellas in the Summer" and the sleepier "4:38 am."
Beatlovers, Vol. 2 leaves room for a lot of room for the imagination since only two tracks have lyrics. It is tough to group Nocturnal Ron into one genre, making his production personality nearly impossible to identify. The album is lengthy but the sound is so diverse that any listener is bound to gravitate toward some favorites. Ron definitely covers all the bases. Both right-brain, left-brain, good and bad.