Bottom Line EP

Artist: NemissTitle: Bottom Line EPRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne

Eddie Murphy opens this EP complaining that “the girls are always coming up short.” Okay, that’s from Harlem Nights, but it sums up Nemiss’ beef with female MCs. This Chi-town transplant has been on a steady grind toward recognition in New York’s underground scene since 2003 and the Bottom Line EP (Luv4Art) is her latest effort.

The entire project serves as a testament to Nemiss’ conviction not to sell out to the industry mandate that women must put sexuality over talent. Regarding her craft, she asserts over the swift drums and jazzy instrumentals of the superior title track that, “I won’t dumb it down/It’s a disgrace to the Hip-Hop race/So this intellect you have to embrace.”

This “redbone lady dread” is on the anti-establishment warpath hard and dares anyone to stop her, as demonstrated on the opener “The Times.” Hip to the industry machine game, she spits the double-entendre, “If I sign to a label they want at least a limb an arm and a leg/They want a jpeg with my ass and tits out glamoured and glitzed out/I’m going indie like arie still putting hits out.” The bongo and smooth horns that provide the foundation for her fiery lyrics are an unexpected match-up, but work.

“Doin’ It,” is a strong contender for best song in terms of production and in demonstrating her breezy flow. It provides a danceable bass accompanied by guitar licks for Nemiss to brag about how what she’s doing, others can only pursue. As if knowing the strength of this song, there’s also a remix–which actually has a different beat and different lyrics (like how actual remixes used to). Also of note are a live freestyle thrown in that Nemiss rips through giving you a good idea of her potential and the finale, “American Woman”. Its bareness–there’s only an acoustic guitar– lets you focus completely on her rhyme skills and ability to weave a portrait.

Though the CD is sure to invoke the feeling of having stumbled into a tiny, spoken-word lounge somewhere in downtown Brooklyn (incidentally her borough) filled with the bohemian types, this EP’s Bottom Line is that Nemiss means business. This is a woman with a goal and who intends on reaching it her way – and if that means beating you over the head with indignant feminism and intellect, so be it.