Nolan the Ninja: “YEN” [Album Review]

Nolan the Ninja: “YEN” [Album Review]

I personally still think Detroit is one of the most legendary places in hip-hop history yet doesn’t get the recognition it deserves for the talent it’s produced AND continues to produce. J Dilla, Proof, Danny Brown, Red Pill, Black Milk, House Shoes, the list goes on and on and on. One of the most recent upstarts from Detroit is Nolan the Ninja. Last year he released his debut LP “he(art)” (in fact I had just copped the vinyl when YEN was announced) to critical acclaim. Nolan took the boom bap sound and evolved it. Cats so often say boom bap is boring and on the way out, but I’m not sure how one can say that after listening to an artist like Nolan who demands the mic, speaks the truth, while also speaking a confidence only someone who has paid dues could.

17 tracks deep Nolan is doing his own thing as he always has, nowadays cats say a project is too long if it has 10 tracks and is over a half hour, not Nolan. We get 17 tracks that add up to almost an hour and it’s all worth it. Nolan picks up where we left off, this time with more experience under his belt, but the mission remains the same. Tracks like 14K and Lei$ure (which features Blu) speak on the grind Nolan has been on this entire time “I been through the trials, living ain’t an easy pill to swallow, like being booed at the Apollo”. That’s just one example of Nolan speaking his peace and reminding the listener pursuing your goals is a difficult journey. Are you up for it?

Nolan is one of the most versatile emcees I think we have around these days. When you hear him on a track it’s easy to get lost in his booming voice (every time I play him for friends they think he’s like DMX Jr.) but if you pay attention to what the Detroit emcee is saying “YEN” is as much of Nolan speaking his peace as it is him calling us to action. One of my favorite parts of Nolan’s music is when he slows everything down and is just spelling out and venting to the audience. The title track “YEN” & “Schoolcraft” which close out the album has Nolan opening up to us, this man’s been through alot and in coming out on top he’s encouraging us to push through the trials life has to offer.

“YEN” is the continued evolution of Nolan the Ninja, honestly I would’ve been just as hype and ecstatic had we got a slightly upgraded “he(art)”. What we got was what happened to Nolan after the release of “he(art)”. Nolan is aware of the times, it’s easy to get discouraged when you look around. Nolan is telling us to remain focused and to keep pushing forward. Don’t take my word for it? We also get features from Royce Da 5’9, Denmark Vessey, Jaye Prime, A-Minus, Blu and more. Those are hefty cosigns for a sophomore album, Nolan is the truth and one of the best artists out right now. Let’s just prey we get a lot more from before he retires at 35.

You can support YEN HERE.

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