Veteran hip-hop artists Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark released their first ever full-length collaboration earlier this month. The self-titled release comes three years after the duo released its debut EP Another Day, Another Dollar. Regardless of whether or not the pair decides to re-issue that EP anytime soon, audiences have in its debut full length studio effort a record that any hip-hop fan will agree is one of this year’s best new hip-hop and rap albums. The album’s opener ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural) is a solid first impression for audiences. The album’s lead single ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo)’ is just as impressive with its mix of hip-hop and r&b style. And then there’s the deeply thought-provoking penultimate piece ‘Godzilla or Gamera.’ Between its simple musical side and its seeming social commentary, it’s one of the album’s true standout points. Taken alongside the other songs noted here Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark’s debut full length shows that should their primary groups—The Pharcyde and Jurassic 5—not release another album (J5 recently reunited for a tour with Dilated peoples, but not much else seems planned past that) the two artists could easily have a bright future making their own music together.
Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark open their self-titled album solidly with what is a solid first impression in the form of ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural).’ The song comes across as an introduction for Tre and Nu-mark as their own artists. The pair writes about growing up with music and being focused solely on that one thing. The song’s musical style makes the song even more enjoyable. That’s because there are so few hip-hop and rap acts that stylistically do today what Nu-mark and Slimkid3 do musically. Audiences can hear this same style from the duo’s primary groups and from the likes of Dilated Peoples. But by and large, it seems that so many rap and hip-hop acts today rely more on pop music and electronica as the basis for the songs that make up their albums. So hearing this old school style (for lack of better wording) as opposed to so much other material out there makes this song all the more a positive first impression for fans whether or not they are familiar with the work of both artists.
Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark make a solid mark with ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural).’ Just as positive a piece is the album’s lead single ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo).’ The song mixes the duo’s well-established hip-hop style with a more r&b style. The two styles are expertly balanced against the song’s story of a man trying to his best to make his woman happy, but just can’t. The duo writes in this song, “Listen/Now each and every day/I gave a little bit more/Cause in the game of love/I had the high score/From the dinners and the movies to the things that didn’t do it/But sacrifice is what life is for/She had the big screen/Had that/The diamond ring/Had that…So we kept living like we was on the Cadillac/I wasn’t trippin’ though/I’d never take it back.” This is a man that has tried everything. But as the chorus states, it was no avail. The men write, “And I know/And I know/And I wait/And I wait/And she won’t/And she won’t/To this day/To this day/And I know/And I know/And I wait/And I wait.” The sample from Darondo asks “Didn’t I try” in an almost pleading sense. Listeners can just see a man asking his woman, what can he do, didn’t he do enough, didn’t he try? It’s a solid song that if mainstream r&b and pop stations haven’t picked up on by now, they really should. That’s because it is another great addition to this album.
Both ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural)’ and ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo)’ exemplify the talent of both DJ Nu-mark and Slimkid3 and what makes this album well worth the listen by any purist fan of the hip-hop and rap genres. One more piece that can be used as an example of that talent and ease of listening comes in the album’s penultimate track ‘Godzilla or Gamera.’ There seems to be a certain social commentary in this piece. The song comes across as making a statement about the violence that is destroying so many communities today. That thought is raised as Nu-Mark and Slimkid3 write in this song, “I cocked the hammer but there was nothing glamorous/Caught up in the AM in pajamas like the amateur…we’re in a dark place so let one spark/First one to shoot/Shoulda left that mark/They scatter like a cockroach/I scramble a little close to find the evidence to make us ghosts.” He goes on to make note of thoughts of pallbearers and limousines and people shooting guns. There’s even mention of “the young ones doing crimes for fun” with a certain cynical tone that makes the song’s statement even more clear. It’s good to hear such a socially conscious song especially from a genre that is so known more for objectification of women and glorification of drugs and violence. And set against the strains of the keyboard line and beat, it hits even harder, leading it to stand out even more as one of the album’s key moments. It proves to be one more song that along with ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural)’ and ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo)’ makes Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark an album that every rap and hip-hop fan should hear at least once.
Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-Mark have crafted an album their self-titled release that stands well above so much of the rap and hip-hop crowd. The trio of songs noted here, alongside those not noted, prove in the end that it is an easy contender for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hip-hop and rap albums. Its beats mixed in with lyrics that hit on a variety of topics make it a solid work from start to finish. And regardless of whether or not Jurassic 5 or The Pharcyde decide to ever put out another album (somehow odds seem to be against that), one thing is certain—this album proves without a shadow of a doubt that should those groups not release another album, the future is bright for this duo. SLimkid3 & DJ Mu-Mark is available now in stores and online. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.