Artist: NicolayTitle: HereRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Anthony Carr
To the average listener, the producer known as Nicolay doesn't ring a bell, but in the underground his name is affiliated with the critically acclaimed The Foreign Exchange (Connected) project with Little Brother's own Phonte. For those lost in the mainstream, Nicolay is considered one of the most underrated producers in the underground scene. Representing the Netherlands, Nicolay gives those that choose to listen, a showcase of production skills that is surely to be reckoned with. With his fourth full length album Here (BBE records), Nicolay continues to show why he receives accolades from artist and producers such as Jazzy Jeff and ?uestlove.
Here sets the mood with the intro. Smooth bass and subtly drum sit finely tuned with a light piano and flute riff, giving his audience a theme entrance of what is to come. Affiliate Black Spade donates his lyrics to the very chill "I Am The Man". A simple drum and high hat with layers of sounds and a chorus that makes this song a repeat button threat. Showing his ability to take lesser known samples and create a distinct sound, "Let It Shine for Me" not only lets the sample be enjoyed and heard, but also creates a tone with guitar strums and a mild piano that distinctively goes with the vibes. Yahzarah gives the unfamiliar with her a reason to pay attention with her chill down your spine vocal performance on the radio friendly "Adore".
Nicolay once again doesn't fail from a production side. He gives what those who are familiar with him his head nodding, repeatable, solid material and those that are not, a reason to take a listen. Those that may want to be meticulous and find flaws will only find them within his selection of guests. Whiz Khalifa reps well on wistful "What It Used To Be" but no one on the Phonte or Big Pooh lyrical caliber is heard, though, this cast is fresh to the scene and ears of listeners themselves. Otherwise if you are tired with the monotony of music topics and Pro Tools enhanced production from the mainstream, come an take a listen to Nicolay's version of what Hip-Hop should sound like because according to him, it's here.