NEMS – “Congo” review

This is the 3rd full-length album from New York emcee NEMS. Coming up in the battle rap circuit, he would go on to have a brief stint with Psycho+Logical-Records in the late 2000’s before dropping the debut Prezident’s Day under Creative Juices Music back in 2010. This was followed up almost 9 years later when he & JAZZSOON teamed up for the damn near flawless Gorilla Monsoon, but is now returning for Congo.

“Go Fish” is an empowering opener telling the listener they’re destined to do great things whereas “Grind Mode” with Black Savv & Richie Ricks almost has a bit of a soulful trap vibe talking about hustling. “Bing Bong!” finds Vinny Idol working in some violins & dusty drums for NEMS to get on his disrespectful shit just before the summery romance tune “You & I” with the Terror Squad’s very own Tony Sunshine

Meanwhile with “Gorilla Clip”, we have NEMS hopping on top of a heavy guitar to get on the battle tip leading into him & UFO Fev going back & forth with one another for the synth-laced “Body at the Dice Game”. The homie Johnny Slash takes things back to boom bap territory on the confrontational “Wow”, but then the Gorilla Twins enlist Eddie Kaine & Rim to pay homage to “Tha Boro” over a piano instrumental. “Real Lyfe” goes back into that trap lane saying he doesn’t feel right if he doesn’t make a stack a night whereas the Charlie G-produced “Cousins” is a touching tribute to his family.

Spit Gemz & King Cardi tag along to ominously detail what it’s like “Downstate” while the song “You Don’t Exist” takes shots at clout chasers. The penultimate track “Highly Favorable” flexes his skills on top of a celebratory beat from JAZZSOON, but then “U Dumb” with Nrok Dinero & Dinero Daboss is an awkward closer with a drill instrumental sampling the iconic Kanye joint “Power”.

I was curious to hear where he would go after Gorilla Monsoon giving how amazing that album was, but this is a solid follow-up. It’s interesting to hear him dabbling with new sounds & being one of the very few battle rappers to actually carry over his nasty lyricism for a full-length capacity.

Score: 3.5/5

Gorilla Twins – Self-Titled review

The Gorilla Twins are a Brooklyn hip hop duo consisting of Ill Bill & NEMS. Both of whom have cemented themselves as underground titans with releases like The Hour of Reprisal, Prezident’s Day, The Grimy Awards & Gorilla Monsoon. The 2 have collaborated with each other a few times in the past but after 5 years in the making, they’ve decided now is the time to team up with this new album over here.

After the titular intro, we get into the first song “Married to the Game”. Where the duo pretty much talk about their grind over a wrathful instrumental. The track “Wolves” with Vinnie Paz sees the 3 telling their opponents that they don’t want the smoke over a boom bap beat with a mournful piano-loop while the song “Highs & Lows” talks about the trials & tribulations of their lives over a perilous beat from Stu Bangas. The track “Bong!” finds the duo going back & forth with each other nonchalantly over some strings & a despondent vocal sample looped by Shortfyuz while the song “Supply & Demand” compares themselves to the bad guys in movies over a boom bap beat with an angelic choir hanging in the background.

After the “Twinning” interlude, the track “Nah” talks about running the spot over an unsettling instrumental from Scram Jones while the song “Shootout at the Cyclone” with Lord Goat sees the 3 getting on the mafioso tip over a Middle Eastern-influenced instrumental from Ill Bill himself. The track “Gunners” talks about those who lie in their raps over an apocalyptic boom bap beat & although I like how the song “Pay Homage” tells the listeners to put respect on both of their names along with the Stu Bangas instrumental that they both trade bars, I wish it was a little bit longer. The album finishes off with “Adios”, where the Gorilla Twins link up with Immortal Technique to talk about inevitable death over a funereal boom bap beat.

This was well worth the 5 year wait if you ask me. During the album’s 35 minute runtime, Ill Bill & NEMS manage to show that they have an impeccably natural chemistry together & the production is grimy as it’s always been. The lack of features are a really nice touch as well. If you’re a fan of either one of the Canarsie & Coney Island veterans or both for that atter, then this is definitely a must listen!

Score: 4/5

NEMS – “Gorilla Monsoon” review

NEMS is an MC from Brooklyn, New York who first gained attention in the battle rap field. He made his debut in 2010 with Prezident’s Day & followed it up in 2012 with Coney Soprano but now after years of mixtapes, he’s coming back with his 3rd album.

The album kicks off “Step Aside”, where NEMS is spitting battle bars over a sinister boom bap beat from JAZZSOON (who happens to be the sole producer of the project). The next song “Where You Know Me From?” with Conway details the gritty street life over a nightmarish instrumental while the track “Timb Boots” gets into fight mode over a funky beat. The song “Gahbage” is a ruthless diss towards wack rappers who shove their music down everyone’s throats while the track “Kings” is a dedication to how good NEMS is living over a soulful beat.

The song “Lil Niggas” gets back on the battle bar tip over a grimy boom bap beat while the track “Who Got Ya?” brags about his prowess over a piano driven boom bap beat. After the “Intermission”, the song “200” with Spit Gemz sees the 2 body of their competition over a beat that sounds inspired by a horror film. The track “Heavy Metal” reflects on his past over some prominent drums while the song “Leave Me Alone” gets motivational over a punchy beat. The penultimate track “No Reggaeton” with Al Doe & Axel Leon is an intriguing Puerto Rican flavored cut & then the album ends with “Token of My Gratitude”, which is essentially a beautiful 3 & a half minute song combined with a 13 minute spoken word outro.

Personally, this is easily NEMS’ magnum opus. There are a couple tracks I could’ve done without but for the most part: JAZZSOON’s beats are hardcore, the rhymes are deadly & it really seems like he put his heart into it.

Score: 4/5