The Niceguys - The Show
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Record Label: Unsigned
The Niceguys aren’t exactly the type of hip-hop collective that you would expect to be from Houston. Granted, the emcee Easy Yves Saint is a Queens native, but you still have Christolph and Free on the production side of things, and they are both Texas natives. In an industry where record sales are low and typically, nice guys finish last (ahem), one must really take into consideration the blatant risk these boys are taking by releasing their debut LP, The Show, for free. We’re talking years of ideas, rhymes and beats being given away at the drop of a hat. At the same time, after hearing a debut LP of this stature and the confidence that has fueled its release, you realize that it isn’t that surprising.
In a way, The Niceguys embrace the dichotomy that makes hip-hop so great. Many of the album’s hooks are highly accessible and ready for public consumption (“Toast,” “It’s Like That”), which seems almost necessary nowadays to rake in new fans. Turn the other cheek, and you’ll find Easy Yves Saint’s verbal fluidity (“Members Only”) and the use of wordplay (“The Good Shepherd”) that would embarrass many of today’s biggest rappers. Producers Christolph and Free provide a musical backdrop that sounds like a major-label budget was utilized to the fullest extent; rich in everything from live instrumentation to the good old sampling and thumping bass of the east coast.
Some of the album’s best tracks lie in the biggest risks, especially when it comes to a hip-hop group out of Houston, TX. Within the opening seconds of “Things Ain’t the Same,” it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing if you were to double take; , mainly because it’s a hip-hop song driven by guitar and isn’t cheesy. “On the Road” channels one part Kill Bill, one part Wu-Tang Clan and manages to be a highlight, despite clocking in at over 7 minutes. And granted, sampling or quoting Fight Club isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, but they manage to make it work on the album’s lead single, “Mr. Perfect.”
And when it comes to criticize, there are slim pickings. As much as we could do without a redux of sampling Lee Fields’ “My World is Empty,” (see: J. Cole’s “World is Empty”) The Niceguys manage to set their interpretation on “Caves,” thanks largely in part to the song’s hook. “Somebody” feels like that ‘one song’ that was put on the record for the ladies, and comes off a tad bit contrived and forced.
Even though it’s way too early to tell, it feels like The Niceguys are prepared for this industry. They embrace every genre from soul and rock all the way to that beautiful turn-of-the-century hip-hop. Their wide array of influences has given the group its footing early on, and will undoubtedly only lead to bigger and better things. And quite simply put, The Show is one the most cohesive and rewarding listens you’ll have this year.