Following a scant patch in Nines’ discography new release ‘Crop Circle 2’ is much-welcomed, the fiercely anticipated project anchored in artistic continuation, his authentic rap flavour a forever welcomed feast. This LP is the follow up to this 2018 debut, and comes as ‘Crop Circle’ celebrates its fifth anniversary.
Picking up from where he left off with the first instalment of ‘Crop Circle’, the North West London native’s storytelling ability shines on the ‘Intro’. Describing his recent journey – from releasing his third album until now – it does well to immerse the listener into his elusive journey and sets the stage for what is to follow.
Features on this album are cherry-picked, calling on contributions from the UK’s favourites as well as Nines’ frequent ICB collaborators. ‘Highly Blesse’d (ft. Wretch 32 and Skrapz) is excellent – Wretch delivers roaring patios-tinged vocals on the hook, Skrapz’ esteemed lyricism slotting in seamlessly for a summertime, top-down type anthem.
‘Favela’ ft. J Styles refreshingly seeing Nines’ employ a staggered flow on the first verse, one that works well alongside J Styles’ skippy hook. Snoochie Shy also returning for this project, her character going back and forth on with Nines on ‘Calendar’. A playful drop, seemingly sampling ‘Saturday Love’, it sees him list off his romantic interests in a way he first coined over 10 years ago in his first Fire In The Booth.
M Huncho and Nines intertwine vocals on the hook for ‘Nothing Like Me’ for a smooth debut collab. Gently carrying us into ‘Weedman’ ft. Lylo Gold, cool ethereal notes are striking on the chorus, the Zino Record’s head honcho talking on a topic we all know him to be familiar with.
‘Tony Soprano 2’ released prior to the album it passes the baton on. ‘Tony Soprano’ a cult classic on the 2018 project. Dishing out an onslaught of metaphoric bars in traditional Nines flair.
The ‘Gangsteritis’ remix offered the first look at what a Nines x Potter Payper tune would sound like, the pair considered the UK’s real rap’s champions. They go back-to-back with clever bars playing on IC1 and IC3 for ‘What’s Beef’.
R14 Beats production glistens on ‘Different League’, a simple but effective eerie rap pick. Nines, Nafe Smallz & Clavish underlaid with chiming tones, with Nines further asserting himself.
‘Tick Tock / Prayed for This’ a bouncy two-sided track, and despite its inherently hip-hop sound to begin with he states that it’s trap. A nice juxtaposition before a smooth transition into the reflective ‘Prayed for This’ by Karlos and Michelin Shin.
An unexpected feature with Kojey Radical results in thought-provoking bars – he and Nines making a subtle nod to the state of the world. Pt 6 of ‘Line Of Fir”” features ICB heavy all-stars, the link to Nines Dat Piff era apparent.
As the 15-track project closes out, Nines cites the famous Hydro’s story. Soulful gospel-samples filter through ‘Hear Me Out’, with the rapper riffing on levelling up and how far he’s come. The beat breaking down, Nines ending it reaffirming “that’s enough” which segues us into the outro.
Despite his undeniable levels of commercial success, this album establishes Nines as the authentic talent fans love him for. He’s grounded, able to casually flex his accomplishments, and this project signs off with him basking in a different lifestyle. Circular in nature, it’s fuelled by continuation – the guest dubs, rolling instrumentals and narration encompassing an earlier era of his artistry in a fine-tuned way.
Words: Shanté Collier-McDermott