Following on from his critically-acclaimed 2015 mixtape One Foot In, Nines finally gives us the sequel and debut album, One Foot Out. The titles of both projects depict the paths of Nines’, both career and street wise. In 2013, Nines was incarcerated for eighteen months, following a charge of possession of cannabis with intent to supply.
His time spent at Wormwood Scrubs serving the sentence can be seen as the antidote to invigorate his music career, and One Foot In solidified Nines’ impressive flow and no-nonsense street talking lyrics. One Foot Out follows a similar pattern, the album carrying a nice fifteen tracks, however, taking on a much more reflective persona within his lyricism, Nines attempts to portray his life in the ‘trap’ through effortless story-telling, deep beats, and gritty samples.
The previously released ‘Intro’ to the album brings with it a callous political tone, with references to Labour. “My pens gonna take me out the trap like Double 0 Seven”, hits within the first thirty seconds of the track, you know Nines is talking that real talk.
Nice ad-libs from Skrapz, Fatz and Streetz, all Ice City members, which Nines is a part of. The beat is piano-driven to start with, until the drop lifts it into a different dimension tempo wise. One interesting line from the chorus from the Ice City Boyz is “My brudda Nines is like the five star president”, Nines definitely garners lots of respect. Skrapz wants us to “Ask Nines if I ever let my nine go”. I think the answer to that is fairly obvious!
‘TRAPPER OF THE YEAR’ (FT Jay Midge)
This track was released some time ago now, and it probably is Nines’ flagship song thus far. Featuring Jay Midge on the hook, the beat is straight icy! Nothing we don’t already know on this one, signature Nines.
‘LOVE 2 THE GAME’ (FT Hudson East)
I love the samples that begin most tracks of Nines, they always typify the street noise that he wants to bring to the songs. “Probably been through more windows than Microsoft”. That’s the coldest bar I’ve heard in a long time, but it’s so simple. What sets it apart from other rappers saying something like this that can be deemed a cheap throwaway, is the fact that there’s an unnerving truth behind this though, Nines means it. Deep track. The feature from Hudson East is nice too.
‘GETTING MONEY NOW’
Different type of introduction, then the hook emerges from nowhere, although not the strongest vocally. Nines rescues the song with a hard-hitting verse and the beat mellows into a softer tone. Could possibly be more successful if the vocalist was changed on this, the track may work better than it does, but there are certainly positive elements.
‘THESE KEYS’ (FT Berner)
This a straight ‘driving round the ends’ vibe, the beat is literally dripping cold. That striding bass in the back is mad. Berner, who is a part of Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang, adds a verse that at first is questionable, given the polar opposite flows, but midway through his verse the beat just turns up and it eventually materialises into a strong verse. Probably one of the strangest collaborations you’ll see in 2017, but the beat is definitely the best one so far, hard track.
The scratchy element to this beat, coupled with the high pitch vocals, cement the sound that runs through this project. Nice bass to this tune, as with so many of the tracks so far, and so many quotes from Nines, another recurring theme throughout. Again the track is around three minutes in length, so there’s a few factors that define the consistency within this album. The first half of the album is solid.
‘HOES’ (FT Tiggs Da Author)
You know that with Tiggs on this, the change-up in tempo will be apparent, given his masterful hooks. Mmm, the beat is smooth, and Nines just sounds so adaptable on different beats, even though is flow remains the same. The secondary verse from Nines is punched off with a killer line, “And all these hoes never like to act like they’re hoes”, one of my favourite quotes from this album. Damn!
Can definitely feel the mood and focus has shifted towards reflecting on troubles with the gyal. The amount of relevant quotes on these last two songs alone is enough to fill a sombre man’s mind for a month at least, let alone the countless ‘road’ references. Nines has an uncanny knack of been able to encapsulate a whole mind-set in one bar. “It feels like months, and we ain’t spoke in days. I ain’t gonna chase her but I hope she stays”. Raw emotion put in a simplistic fashion, that’s what Nines does best.
‘HIGH ROLLER’ (FT J Hus)
This was the pre-release off the album from a few weeks ago with J Hus handling the hook. This song speaks of the journey from the struggles of the trap, to the luxuries of fame and money. In essence, being a ‘High Roller’. I didn’t think this was that much of a big deal when I heard it first time round, nothing has convinced me otherwise, despite the lyrics being hard-hitting, but that’s the norm. J Hus’s hook is predictable, but I suppose it’s a track designed to grab people’s attention that the album was on the way.
Love the high pitch, almost steel-drum like sounds at the beginning of this. I just lost myself in this one, I stopped typing about it and just took a minute or two to appreciate the lyrics and beat. Didn’t feel like I was in my university writing this then, I need to find a traphouse quickly and just vibe. Nah, on a serious note though, this is probably the most vicious track of the album, purely based on the bars and content within it. It may sound predictable to people not familiar with Nines, but you have to listen to this carefully in order to realise the genius and realness behind it. There’s very few projects like this anymore.
‘I WONDER’ (FT Akala)
Interesting seeing Akala as a feature artist. Probably one of the most outspoken urban artists from the UK, and is so knowledgeable, so there must be a deep subliminal message within this track. A very insightful track, capturing many of Nines’ personal thoughts and also his inhibitions. The Akala ‘feature’ is actually an interview recorded, which is extremely thought provoking.
Judging by the title, I’m expecting something more associated with a drill beat, maybe that’s a little naïve on my part. Still, the track is in keeping with the pattern of the overall project, a solid base, and a feel that the album is coming to its’ close.
‘MAKE IT LAST’
The penultimate tune is definitely the mellowest tune on the album, feels like the album has come full circle now. The choppy element to the beat towards the end of the song is very wavy, a late night joint most certainly.
The Outro is the final piece in the jigsaw to complete this masterpiece, another laid back, unwinding tune to finish. The heartfelt lyricism again provides an insight into the hurt and pain Nines feels about the surroundings he’s lived in, and as I said once before in this piece, these albums are very rare in the modern urban climate.
Overall, this is one of the most complete albums I’ve heard in a long time, taking into account all aspects of the project, from the great use of vocal samples on the production, to Nines’ vintage storytelling lyrics. One Foot Out typifies Nines;’ journey from the ends, to prison and back again, in a way that very few, if any, UK rappers are able to do. The recognition may not always have been there, but this album may be just about to change things and do numbers and wonders for Nines.
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