28 August Review By Kase
There are a few things that are almost guaranteed whenever Nines drops a new project; it’s going to have a hard-hitting intro and outro, every track is going to ooze authenticity and the streets are going to be listening.
‘Crabs In A Bucket’ proves to be no exception with Nines setting the tone from the very first line of the project, talking on ‘Intro’ about the humbling experience of returning from holiday in Ibiza to find out that his dad had been diagnosed with cancer. This emphatic opening to the project is continued in the second track ‘Energy’, which features a stand-out verse from long-term collaborator and close friend Skrapz (who people often forget was a part of legendary grime crew SLK).
Throughout the project Nines is able to showcase his elite storytelling ability, poignantly discussing the position he finds himself in caught between music and the streets and touching on topics such as police victimisation and dealing with grief. Something I feel that people have always appreciated about Nines is his willingness to show vulnerability and touch upon deeper feelings of anguish and stress, whilst also counterbalancing this with clever wordplay and witty flexing bars.
Although the project gives a distinctly honest and introspective view into Nines’ life and mindset, it still has several tracks with clear mainstream, commercial appeal. This energy is generally conveyed by some of the features on the project. For example, one of the lead singles from the project ‘Airplane Mode’ is largely dominated by the featuring NSG and will most likely be a smash hit once clubs eventually reopen. Another more poppy standout from the project is ‘Ringaling’, produced by UK titan Steel Banglez and featuring another heavyweight of the scene in Headie One. Amongst these giants of the scene, it is actually the chorus from up and comer Odeal that unites the track and gives it such strong memorability.
Personal highlights on the project are ‘NIC’, which features a man who has given Nines several of his most catchy hooks, Tiggs Da Author; ‘Lights’ in which Nines bounces perfectly off of the energy of featuring artist Louis Rei (of WSTRN); and ‘All Stars 2’, a follow up to a track from previous mixtape ‘One Foot In’. On ‘All Stars 2’, Nines delivers a more drill-type sound with features from some of the UK’s most exciting and singular talents with the verses from Clavish and Frosty standing out especially.
Generally on the album Nines demonstrates more versatility than we’ve seen from him before, experimenting with different styles that listeners might not be so familiar with from him. However, since Nines stays true to his firmly authentic perspective and characteristic laid-back style throughout, the project does fit together seamlessly.
The rollout to this project appears to have been very well-executed. The album’s release was accompanied by a short film on Nines’ own YouTube channel – the third installment of Nines’ own musical films after ‘Crop Circle’ (which similarly dropped at the same time as Nines’ last album) and ‘Crop Circle 2’. This short film also will carry some of the momentum of the two short films Nines dropped on the channel last month – Theo Johnson’s ‘Just One Drop’ and ‘Major Paper’, a film by Grime artist Milli Major which starred Tion Wayne, Big Narstie and Tempa T amongst others. It appears that Nines is having a moment now that extends beyond just this album release and he is beginning to build an empire that goes beyond purely music. As Nines himself muses at the end of ‘Airplane Mode’ “I told these n****s Ice City going platinum baby / We’ve got Ice City films now / Got an Ice City book coming soon / Ice City clothing”
As well as the short film the album rollout also featured a special ‘Fire In The Booth’ last week, the first ever outdoors edition of Charlie Sloth’s series; a drive-through launch event in Central London, and a large feature interview in The Guardian.
In this project, Nines definitely does not disappoint his fans who have waited around two years to hear a new project from him. He gives a range of different vibes and styles on the project, but stays true to himself and balances it all out expertly.
Run the album up here!
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