N*E*R*D has been a group that I’ve known peripherally, although I’ve never consciously listened to their music, read up enough to learn what genre they played or knew who the actual members of the group were. So with having absolutely no idea what to expect I listened to their album, “NO_ONE EVER REALLY DIES,” which released late last year. Here are my top 5:

Hate! Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, my friends // Hate! I tried to tell y’all about this dude

The first track on album is always highly important to me. I rarely listen to an album out of order or skip a track on one of the first few listens, so it makes it difficult to keep going if I don’t like the opener. If I don’t at least find the opener at the very least instrumentally pleasing, chances are I just won’t listen to the album at all. And as I’ll discover throughout the album, LEMON is a solid indicator of what almost every song on the album is like. Awesome beats, strong guest work, good enough verses and some really crappy choruses.

Running against my race, you’re lost // You’re all at the matinee // The American mall

There is a strange dichotomy for me on this song. For the most part I really enjoy the lyrics, but once the chorus and especially the post chorus kick in, it almost makes me want to skip the song entirely. Luckily the instrumental work is strong enough to stay my hand from putting an early end to it.

3. “1000
(Hey, hey, hey!) Assembling a riot // (Hey, hey, hey!) Chanting and circling the fires

The strongest beats on the album so far, which have a simple but aggressive energy to them that is fun to listen to. Unfortunately, with all of the “Holy shit, it’s working” in the verse and the constant “One zero zero zero” all throughout the song, there is just too much damn repetitiveness for my taste. At first I thought I was a fan of Future’s verse, but after some time I realized that (again) the instrumental is the only reason I don’t skip.

Illuminate the corner, celebrate humanity scream and back at me in the morning // Every field in Mississippi, every street in California // Know the devil is a liar, it’s the time to be anointed

Honestly, the reason I enjoy this song so much is because of Kendrick. There’s so much going on in the background of this song that’s incredibly distracting, but Kendrick’s flow is able to cut through all the crap and deliver an energetic as usual recording.

How many more of us gotta see the coroner? // Slain by the same badge, stop, wait, brake, fast!

A fantastic song, telling the story of the unjust killing of Keith Lamont Scott by the police in 2016—the sharpest political song on the album. It might be a bit telling that my two favorite songs on the album feature Kendrick, but he really is a performer who is working on another level. As opposed to his verse on KITES where he was fighting through distractions on that song, here, his unique showmanship is able to shine through with the help of the instrumental instead. Not only that, but the rest of the song doesn’t have the same problems I’ve had with most tracks on the album, so it’s more consistently enjoyable than anything else on the album.

NO_ONE EVER REALLY DIES has an enjoyably decent first half, and less memorable second half that sort of just fades away. I really liked the album at first, but after multiple listens my opinion of it definitely fell. There are a few songs that I outright don’t even give a chance any more, most notably ESP which is easily my least favorite track. Still, there are some strong guests verses and beats to be found. With stronger lyrics this album could have been so much more. 2.5/5

Contributors: A. Kirshy

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