In the midst of bumping Sir Lucious Left Foot and that “Pursuit of Happiness” remix nonstop, I’ve been hipped to a little EP that is smashing its way into the rotation. Sophomore Slump Vol. 1: Independent’s Day by Skipp Coon and Mister Nick is a refreshingly focused and original piece of political rap.
Featuring skilled, impassioned rapping from Skipp Coon over moody, low fi, movie sample sprinkled production by Mister Nick, Sophomore Slump comfortably inhabits a dark corner of the Dungeon Family/Cunninlynguists style. Skipp comes across like Killer Mike with a love for the sounds of words, delivering emphatic, clever statements about world’s ills–if this sounds a bit cliched, one listen to album opener “James” should allay all fears. Skip is not political in the awkward, childish Green Day sense, nor in the obtuse but so forceful you can’t ignore it Rage Against the Machine sense. He seems like an heir to the legacy left by Ice Cube’s first three albums, combining fiery anger with detailed observation. When it comes to heartfelt Hip-Hop, there’s hardly a more potent combination.
The beats are understated but immediately hooked me in for their perfectly complementary nature. Nick’s soundscapes are deceptively simple, beautifully tailored to Skipp’s style of rap, haunting backdrops reflecting the sentiments of the lyrics. Skipp and Nick provide an example of the sort of magic a producer and emcee can create when building around a specific sound and concentrated set of themes (a la Outkast and Organized Noise or Snoop and Dre). I can’t recommend it highly enough.
As always, writing about music is like dancing about architecture, so just listen to my two favorite tracks, “James” and “4 28 1967 pt. 2” ft. David Banner (who comes through and absolutely obliterates) and Luca Brazi (who gets points for a great alias and a dope verse). Download the album here and support Skipp and Nick if you’re feelin’ the music.