Nines, Crop Circle 2 [Review]
16 May 2023
Released in partnership with Zino Records and Warner Records, Crop Circle 2 is the North-West Londoner’s fourth studio album and sequel to the biggest-selling UK Rap album of 2018 Crop Circle.
Nines latest body of work is his way of showing that both of his feet are firmly planted in legitimism as he fully embraces the music industry and is a multi-faceted creative.
Turning his back on the roads whilst being heavily inspired by the environment that shaped him. Sonically, it’s refined vintage rap that is refreshing to hear in a scene that often favours quick consumerist behaviour and trends.
Witnessing the rationale and thoughts behind his decisions that lead him to the present day brings you to who Courtney is.
The lead single ‘Tony Soprano 2’, provided a first glance into Nines mindset coming into the album and also increased the anticipation of fans. He explores the concept of authenticity in relation to rap and the roads, while also being contemplative about his time in prison.
However, with any type of art produced by artists, we hold to unfairly high standards, despite it being classic Nines and the Harlesden rapper producing a project we enjoy and has the potential to be a project that will age well there’s still the expectation that it should’ve been more.
And by more, I mean that in terms of production maybe Nines should’ve taken more risks. One of the best characteristics of the project was the use of nostalgic samples in certain tracks.
Coming to the end of the project, the rapper shows himself as one of the smoothest as he raps over the sampled female vocals of a reedition of R&B group New Edition’s 1996 song ‘Hear Me Out’.
Or being influenced by Biggie’s ‘What’s Beef?’ named after the track itself, the song featuring East London rapper Potter Payper, is a cautionary tale for impressionable youths.
The pair rap under cinematic violin strings and jazzy saxophone tones as they share the harsh realities of their lives. Potter raps “Beef will have you living like sully on the beach.”
The melody of Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘C.R.E.A.M’ demonstrates that Nines is first and foremost a fan of rap and music in general. Joined by Tiggs da Author and Kojey Radical on the track the three critique current social media reliance, and the lack of opportunities for people coming up.
Over 15 tracks and featuring an abundance of enriching features Nines differentiates himself as a class apart on “Nothing like me’ featuring the melodic M Huncho on the hook. ‘Highly Blessed’ is the first time Skrapz, Wretch 32 and Nines are all on a song together.
Soulstress Aisa compliments ‘Calendar’ with lush vocals as a playful Nines uses clever wordplay to document his romantic experiences. Growth is also signalled on ‘Weedman’ with Zino Records signee Lylo Gold lending sweet vocals to the track.
The personal ‘Letter to Hydro interlude’ revisits the moment that Nines made the decision that changed his trajectory. We witness a voice note of Nines explaining the situation before he spends the rest of the track addressing his friend making the moment feel full circle. His short film, Crop Circle 2 is an authentic portrayal of an authentic day in the life of North-West London directed by Nina himself.
The short film is the follow-up to the first part of the film and stars Nines, and rapper Lightz who are central to the plot alongside Lippy. The film also features other essential members of our cultural scene in acting roles.
Crop Circle 2, like all art produced, is a victim of the reputation and expectations of the artist. If anything it adds to Nines already solidified reputation and acts as confirmation that he’s “tapped out” of the game in the ‘Outro’. Since its release the album currently number two on the official UK charts.
The Harlesden rapper has finally freed himself from people’s expectations and it’s going to be exciting to see what he’s going to create next.
Words by Tyrese King