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NËK - Spirit Flow - ALBUM REVIEW


Spirit Flow

Suitland Maryland, United States

Hip-hop and R&B are classic genres that house some of the most expansive and creative sounds throughout all music. It transcended music from the body and is now the music of the mind. If you can hear it in your head you can put it in hip-hop, and if you can put it in hip-hop you can rap over it. When you do that, with skill, respect, drive and glamour, you get albums like ‘Spirit Flow Reloaded (Dark Mode)’ from Nëk. It's a tonal album, hitting on lo-fi with its melodies, pacing and texture. They’re smooth, eating away at your soul with conservative persistence. The textures are high, fine, warm and glassy. They twinkle against the backdrop of hard bass, mellow streets, fine rap lyrics and flow.

‘Divine Fem’ is the opener. Instantly you get the vibe. It's the first chord, the first second. The instant you hit play, swoosh. Sucked down into a glowing sphere of flow, a red-hot warmth that oozes charm and swagger. It's retro, future-retro, and it feels so good to get lost in its groove. The lyrics join in, the beat egging them along and the song gets underway. Each track on the album feels more like spoken word poetry. Even subjects of wealth, sex, power and fame are spied on through an illuminated looking-glass. It's witty and clever and it makes for some great lyrics.

‘Generational Curse’ solidifies the tones on the album. Some guitar harps on in the back. Heavy bass hits you in the mid, the sporadic percussion mixing up the flow as the vocals sit steadily on the river Styx, passing bars down to you with functional bliss. The trend of bleeding edge rap continues: ‘Karma,’ with its uptempo and hard rap style; ‘Deserving Love’ and its funky soul core that mixes up the hard edge that preceded it; ‘Narcissist Breaker’ speaks to the soul and comes back classic — simple bass and a percussion section that keeps you in the moment. Throughout each track, the vocals prevail. Each song is built to serve the vocal; each texture, harmony and chord meets a word or phrase and lights it up. ‘Spirit Flow Reloaded (Dark Mode)’ doesn’t sit on what works, it diversifies, experiments and grows. This shift-ball-change approach to album construction means that you will never get tired of the sounds that live within it. They flow into one another, cascading ideas down to each other, borrowing, tinkering and stumbling upon eureka moments every few moments.

‘Pieces’ marks the album drawing to a close. Its jazz tones and textures bring forth images of a sunset. It's smooth and funky and could sit as a standalone single. In the mix, however, it makes the album even stronger. ‘Taking a Walk’ continues this jazz flow but mixes in the lo-fi vibe from before, blending its sound into the low and slow Barry White vibe of ‘Mind Games.’ The entire time on ‘Spirit Flow Reloaded (Dark Mode)’ you are covered, head to toe, in groove. That’s what’s lacking with a lot of rap nowadays. That return to the rhythm, really feeling the vibe and making the listener feel it too. Well, it's not lost here. Nëk nails it time and time again. It's not ‘Milwaukee Luck,’ it’s pure talent and skill.



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