‘Nothing But A Word’ album review
album: Nothing But A Word
artist: Propaganda & Derek Minor
release date: November 15, 2019
star rating: four out of five
review by Levi Yager
What do you get when you mix Propaganda and Derek Minor? Apparently, some of the best hip-hop this year. Nothing But A Word is an EP steeped in strong bars and immaculate production, effectively holding the listener’s attention for its entirety. Holding a brisk pace, Prop and Minor jump from track to track with infinite energy and focus. It’s a release that’s inspired, interesting and impossible to ignore once you hit play.
The duo gets it started with “Dope.” Honestly, it’s not one of the better tracks on the EP, but I’ll admit it’s a fun opener. “Dope” is a pretty simple song overall and keeps the vibes mostly chill before “Comments” gets down to business. Featuring sick, boom-bap beats backing raps about the modern obsession with online comments and opinions, “Comments” leaves you wanting more by the time its two-and-a-half minutes are up. And it’s followed by two more highlights: “Contradiction” and “Impose.” The former is notable for guest vocalist Aaron Cole spicing things up with a little singing between solid bars, and the latter turns the lights way down and looks at the overwhelming struggles of personal and societal issues today. The consecutive power here provides an awesome middle section to Nothing But A Word.
The next song, “Overjoyed,” is a decent follow-up to “Impose,” but it’s outshone by its successors, the final two tracks, “Change” and “Fallen.” I love “Change.” It’s a supercharged anthem for improving the world’s current state (and about recognizing the inevitability of change itself) that features infectious, soulful vocals by Daniella Mason and relentless rapping from Propaganda. Then, “Fallen” switches to a toned-down approach, and minimalistic beats set the perfect backdrop for this slow-burner. Tobe Nwigwe really brings it home with his smooth verses at the end, especially the song’s last line, “I swear to God I ain’t fallen, but I might be trippin’.” “Fallen” stands as a memorable bookend to a great EP.
I’d say hip-hop fans owe it to themselves to check out this album. Sure, it’s not quite a masterpiece, but it has way too much going for it to pass up. For one, it’s a stylistic wonder; you get eclectic guitar play, electronic embellishments and different percussive techniques interspersed throughout the EP. Additionally, all the vocal parts are top-notch, even if Prop’s raps aren’t the most creative we’ve heard from him this time around. In the end, no tracks on Nothing But A Word are strike-outs, but some are just base hits while others are grand slams. You’ll definitely want to stick around till the very last inning.