Opening up with a frenetic nod to The Cranberries sums it up really. NoCan is stumbling through Los(t) Angeles and nothing makes sense. His mind is falling apart: â€œI think I’m going crazy. My focus getting hazy. I might be, kinda, maybe. All I hear is static in my head, my head, my head.â€ He can’ decide whether he wants to be the â€œMichael Phelps of rapâ€ or â€œa young Ralph Ellison.â€ Gradually it dawns on us. This isn’ confusion. Static is anger. NoCanDo is an easygoing guy – quick to smile – so to hear a confused NoCan fall apart and rage against those â€œwho act so smart but they don’ know shitâ€ is a bit of a shock. Where are the â€œyo mumma so fatâ€ jokes from NoCanDo’ other life as an emcee battler?
Thankfully, there aren’ any. In their place is a glorious debut packed full of wit, paranoia, great delivery, and incredible beats.
The production team. Wow. Nosaj Thing, Nobody, Thavius Beck, Daedelus, Maestroe, Free The Robots, and Th’ Corn Gangg. There is consistent excellence, no faltering. From the pop sensibility of You’ve Got Some Nerve to the somewhat G Funk-a-like Front Left Pocket, no gaps; no weak links.
Flight Risk is particularly noteworthy. Did you ever think it would be a good thing to reminded of the melodramatic late 90s Eminem? The boring one who didn’ rap about famous people, just about drugs and killing his wife? Well, try to contain your shock when you’re confronted with NoCan â€œsitting on the bathroom floor with a gun in my hand masturbating to a picture of you-hoo, you-hoo, oh my darling.â€ Our first instinct is to smile at the exaggeration; to laugh at the joke. But NoCanDo’ delivery sells it. Just.
With all this energy, and anger (and thirst for booze) comes a weariness. NoCan is an old soul. That’s partly the wisdom and self-knowledge that comes from experience, and partly the frustrated cynicism that comes from experience. Jimmy the Lock is a triumph of contrasts. It’s the album of an old debutant, a quiet party animal; organised chaos. Stunning.