Razor Tongue Media

Nobi's Debut Album Fulminate is a soundtrack to today and not to be missed

Cover for Nobi's album Fulminate features a pixelated black and white image of Nobi's face, eyes closed, looking to the sky.

This time in the world calls for action: Action against police-brutality, against racial-injustice, and fighting to empower The People. Young Folks are at the forefront of movements and this one is no different. If you have been paying attention you know there are protests, protests every night in fact. This movement, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, is being lead by our young people. Turn on the news and you will see Raz Simone leading the Seattle protests. An even younger MC who is leading the call for upliftment is Nobi. Nobi raps with a passion, urgency, openness, and honestly that is so very needed in Hip-Hop these days. He is nimble on the mic yet vulnerable. To match the energy of the current situation Nobi has just released a new single titled “New Chains”. I try my hardest to not compare music to music. I do not want to tell you that this person sounds like this person. That is unimaginative and I need to use actual descriptive words to describe how the music is. However Nobi’s song “New Chains” is undeniably influenced by Kanye West’s “New Slaves”. So I asked Nobi what lead to this song and he did in-fact say,

“I was inspired by the “‘traded whips and chains for whips and chains.”‘ metaphor Kanye uses in “New Slaves”. I was also studying privatized prisons and I was basically breaking the concept down even farther and showing how our vanity is just another way they indoctrinate us.”

Mic drop ladies and gentlemen. In this 1 quote Young Nobi breaks down so much. He illustrates why Kanye’s original song is good but it lacks something. It is too caught-up in vanity. West himself is trapped in the cycle of wanting acceptance from the dominant culture. Nobi’s song is better. Let us be honest, not only can Nobi rap better than Kanye but he has a more complex overstanding of the issues at hand. Nobi makes a full-cycle, he gains wisdom, he sees 360 degrees. Where Kanye stops, Nobi continues. Nobi makes the connections that show us that we need to overthrow all our chains, not just replace them with new, cooler ones.

The full album by Nobi is now available on all music-sites. The album is titled “Fulminate” and it encapsulates Nobi and the mission of his music very distinctly. Fulminate is a chemical reaction like explosion that produces intense light, heat, and energy. It also means to protest something completely, fully, and with your very all and essence. These two attributes are what Nobi possesses and they are what make him such a dynamic, explosive, and expressive MC. He is energy like nothing else but thankfully it is directed at fighting oppression and standing-up for The People. The album is 12 songs, produced entirely by theDGTL, and comes in at 46 minutes, which is just enough time to give Nobi’s messages full impact and just short enough to show you he can do it succinctly, without bogging you down.

The intro track is “These Days” and it gives the album an uplifting beginning. It is a new-school, Hip-Hop, spiritual. Backed by his mother, grandmother, uncle, auntie, and sister, Nobi and fam intro the song with a hypnotic chant and before you know it you are hypnotized, mesmerized, and the second song begins.

“Life” features Nobi’s brother Topp on verses and Naa Akua with a spoken word poem to close the song. The song has an other-worldy feel. Nobi and company have an innate knack of mixing spoken-word, rap, and singing into one fluid, expressive, audible, mind trip. They go back and forth between the music and horns of the song and it turns into an alive creature that breathes, moves, and writhes with musical intention. This track explores time by ripping it up, jumbling it up, turning past into present and future, until we are lost in sound in an all-encompassing experience.

Song number four is titled “One?” and it follows the vibes of “New Chains” perfectly. It is almost as if these songs were made in tandem. “One?” is more melodic as far as the music is concerned. There are humming voices over sparse drums. The minimalism of the beat allows us to hear the sharpness and crispness of Nobi’s slick flow. The song plays out into an encounter with the police as the music and words begin to swirl out-of-control and we can begin to feel the tension and danger of what happens in the mind of a young person of color during a racist police-encounter. The album is a perfect blend of complex music that still manages to come across so easily. There are parts where the album swells into a big, beautiful, explosion, and then there are times where it is just Nobi rapping youthfully over beats and the two mix into each other with skill and ease that cannot be ignored.

“Song five called “Lxst” allows us to hear Nobi’s full range on the mic. He and the DGTL trade vocals throughout the track building on a chemistry that births Nobi’s wise beyond the years poetics to be really felt. Nobi is a true Hip-Hop troubadour. The amount of musical diversity on this one song is almost unbelievable. How he manages to stay fresh and dope on all these different sounds and types of music really just proves that his skills are second to none. There is a lot of singing and almost acoustic sounding guitars on a lot of this album but it is not corny or hokey at all. Nobi is able to play with any type of beat theDGTL lays out for him. No matter what he is spitting on,  it has Hip-Hop energy and never veers off into tacky rap-rock territory. The album is able to stay outer-space, neo-soul, lyrical Hip-Hop, and cutting-edge because Nobi does not need to rely on formulaic boom-bap beats.

Song seven, “Crxrxd/All My Life” is a touching ode to addictions, vices, and the effects it has had on Nobi and his family’s life. Nobi is able to be topical and not preachy. He really can do no wrong. This song might bring tears to your eyes. Nobi has so much feeling in his voice that we all really do feel his pain. The song is sad but it has an upbeat tempo that gives it an angst and a slight bit of hope. It is as if we feel what it is like for a young adult struggling with alcoholism and dealing with his own father’s addictions and trying to come to terms with it all in one intense, crashing, musical moment. It is breathtaking.

“Holdyahead” has a connection to the past but also is a glimpse into the future. The pace of the drums is ancient, calling upon the deep memories of our ancestors. Yet as soon as Nobi raps it is as if a creature from the future is here to teach us about our past and ourselves. Imagine all the classic, old-school sensibilities of old protest, folk, music, with the newness of the digital Hip-Hop age and this is what Nobi is. He has a foot in both worlds. He is a time-traveller.

Song nine is “Purpose” and the sound of the song matches the name. Nobi raps on this song with a personal purpose and drive that is a little harder than his other musical verses. This song somehow encapsulates what Nobi is and about; different worlds coming together in one that is something greater than the sum of the parts. There are sounds that seem to pay homage to his Asian ancestry and then his MCing skills, voice, and the drums seem to give props to his Blackness. Nobi truly draws from the strengths of his pasts and turns them into an untoppable, powerful force.

“Want to Be” features theDGTL as well and it is a little slower than the other songs. Nobi puts it on the line on this emotional song with a beautiful, vocal, chorus that emits deep feelings. The young rapper shows he understands what it means to stand-up for what is just and more importantly that he is willing to fight for it.

“Place My Faith” is the 11th song and it is an uplifting moment of the album. Nobi keeps his music mostly serious. So on “Place My Faith” he steps back and puts himself under the microscope. This song seems to have a thankfulness aura to it. This is Nobi forgiving himself and allowing him to breathe. Life has so many ups and downs that it is necessary to be contemplative for all you have gone through.

Lastly the album ends with the title track “Fulminate” which is a full 7 minutes long. There is a trippy, jazz intro with horns and acid drums entering into your mental. It is during the final song that you realize you have been listening to and being healed by a modern-day medicine-man. He is a travelling poet, going from galaxy to galaxy, rocking mics and sounds coming from all dimensions and multi-verses. Nobi clearly is one of the most talented 25 year-old Hip-Hop artists the world has right now.

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