THE NOSHOES AND JIMSQUINTS VARIETY SHOW
An album by NoShoes and JimSquints
Review presented by Warren Peace
Listen to “The NoShoes and JimSquints Variety Show” by NoShoes and JimSquints
“The NoShoes and JimSquints Variety Show”? Not really sure what will happen at a variety show, right? Why not? I’ll see what’s in store. These guys come out of the west coast and, from what I can gather, they like marijuana. I can’t blame them.
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1- Get Weapon (Intro)
Fittingly, the opening track for The NoShoes and JimSquints Variety Show has an instrumental influenced by ‘video game music’, and a snippet from an interview explaining the definition of ‘nerdcore’. This introduction is one of the best album intros I have heard all year. It gives the audience an idea of what’s in store with a direct message and a taste of what’s to come musically.
2- G Planet
The horns on this beat are crazy. I like ’em. Refusing to deny a nerdy background and undying love for comic books, the audience will quickly find they aren’t listening to a ‘typical’ hip hop album, if they haven’t already. This track definitely took me back to my childhood, and I have to admit that I enjoyed the trip.
There isn’t any smoke or mirrors here, “DeDeDe” is a track about how the state of hip hop has become watered down and the message is presented in a simple and direct manner. During the course of the song, a challenge is issued for rappers to step it up and bring content with substance and intelligence. I would have to agree with the artist’s thoughts in this one. The hook is pretty catchy, too.
4- Powers Combined feat. Kyle Vest
“Powers Combined” features Kyle Vest for the first of many appearances on the album. He makes enough appearances that his name should be considered to be added to ‘The Variety Show’s title. I really like this instrumental, though I feel a little addition to the bass side of things would be great. This is the first of several ‘free verse’, bars-aimed-at-rappers-in-general, we-are-better-than-you-rappers tracks that will be heard on the album. NoShoes and Kyle Vest deliver their bars with confidence and fairly smooth flows to their verses. Kyle Vest’s lyrical ability is displayed a little more than NoShoes’, but both emcees still get their points across. This is also the first of several hooks that are a little too wordy, making it harder for the lines to stick with listeners. “Powers Combined” is a pretty solid contribution to the album.
It may not be an original concept in the hip hop world, but I have to admit that this is one of the more unique songs about marijuana I have ever heard, and that’s truly saying something. The chorus will easily get stuck in the head of anyone listening. The instrumental uses a sample from a classic, and I never would’ve guessed it would be the foundation for a track about weed, but it’s pulled off confidently here.
6- I Rule feat. Kyle Vest and Manny Khayne
Starting to see some repetition with the subject matter of being a ‘great emcee’by the end of the album, but at least “I Rule” offers a switch up from the norm due to all three emcees capitalizing on the video game influenced instrumental by tying in wordplay associated with different video games. All three verses are entertaining to a nerd like me, but Kyle Vest’s verse stands out to me as possibly the best verse on the album. There are a couple bars from him that hit extremely hard. This is one of my favorites tracks of the album.
7- The Bacon Pancakes
Spitting straight bars over the instrumental to a classic hip hop song, the audience is given a few clever one liners and some randomness at the end that hopes to build on the comedic approach, but nothing too extraordinary here. If I were younger I may have found the left field line about bacon pancakes to be humorous, but that wasn’t the case when I listened to this track.
8- Gremz feat. Father Mathu
The vocals are a little low for listening comfort, which really takes away from this track for me in a big way. Matter of fact, I have a hard time following along with the story because of the low vocal level. It seems like a break-up song or a song about breaking up and making up. Something along those lines.
9- Mostly Sunny ’14
Another crazy, yet fun, video game influenced instrumental. “Mostly Sunny ’14” is the ‘feel good, positive’ track of the album. Several fun and enjoyable scenes are painted for the audience with imagery and emotion. There isn’t a hook for this track, one of several that don’t have a chorus on this album, and I feel it could have benefited from having one instead of just letting the music play. From beginning to end, “Mostly Sunny ’14” is one of the best tracks on the album, in terms of writing.
10- Flash, Man feat. Kyle Vest
The first set of bars pushes the notion of a corrupt government and the citizens seemingly blind to what is going on. Kyle Vest has the second verse and goes on a tangent about how great he is as an emcee, completely abandoning the subject matter brought forth by the first verse. The final verse actually touches on each topic from the previous verses while mixing in a few dashes of some other stuff as well. There isn’t a traditional hook on the track, but the sound of scratching is a welcome change of pace for the album.
Older heads will recognize the snippet used as the hook, and no one should have a problem moving to the music. A story gets told during the span of three verses, and anyone who has had strong feelings for another should easily relate to the emotions expressed in “4Luv”. The rhyme schemes themselves are basic, and there are a few patches of choppiness in the flow. Imagery and detail help lock the audience into the story, which moves at a perfect pace as the song progresses. “4Luv” is a welcomed addition to the album.
12- Bring The Storm feat. Matt Mattix
The hook, which is well written, and a rather funky instrumental start the track off. The opening verse attacks the watered down state of hip hop through most of the bars, then attacks emcees in general with the last couple of lines. The second verse picks up where the first verse left off, and continues to test rappers in general from the beginning to the end of this round of bars.
13- Seeds feat. Stevey B and Hype
Another instrumental influenced by video games, “Seeds” is a track on the positive side of the spectrum that motivates people to expand their horizons and work toward their goals, until the last verse which turns the focus back on being the best rapper. Truthfully, the second verse sticks to the topic, has a memorable delivery, and is lyrically on point. The hook is another one that’s a little wordy, but this one is presented in a manner that makes it kind of catchy. Overall, “Seeds” is a strong addition to the album.
14- Crocs feat. Kyle Vest, Tactic$, and Stevey B
NoShoes dives right into the first verse and puts the cypher-style track into perspective, giving the audience the feeling that this is a cypher-style track. His round of bars ties in some humorous lines and not-so-hard hitting punchlines. Kyle Vest takes the second verse after the group of emcees takes turns spitting sections of the hook. Vest takes everything up a notch as he showcases a confident delivery, multiple syllable rhyme schemes that assist in smoothing out his flow, and lifts his lines up a lyrical level above NoShoes. The third verse brings a stack of bars similar to Kyle Vest’s in the second verse, closing the track out with determination in his voice.
15- Diabeetus feat. DJ Grumble
The opinions of NoShoes and JimSquints concerning the state of today’s hip hop are crystal clear. Both verses on this short track express that opinion while declaring how much better they feel they are as emcees. While they make several great points about the current state of hip hop, they might need a little more jaw-dropping power to convince the audience of their claims of being better than most.
16- Bloody Papyrus feat. Stevey B and Kyle Vest
The first verse is line after line of similes and the clearest round of vocals on the whole track. Either the video-game-sound inspired instrumental is too loud or the vocals need to be turned up as there are several areas where the vocals do not come out clearly over the beat. The second verse, performed by Kyle Vest, steps the bar up by being more rounded, well-written, and clever than the first. The hook is put together well lyrically and would have a chance at being catchy if the audience could hear the words more clearly. The third verse also brings some rather witty lines that should provoke some smiles from the audience.
17- L!k3 feat. Wilnevertell and AliCat
If you think about it for a moment, I’m willing to bet you can guess what this track is about from the title alone. If you said ‘Facebook’ or ‘social media’ then you are a winner, indeed. I really like the chorus on this one. Her voice is such a nice change of pace and is very enjoyable. The content in the verses is deep and speaks directly to billions of people on the planet, including you and me. “L!K3” is right up there with “Mostly Sunny ’14” for the best lyric writing on the album.
18- KidKicks feat. 2Troublesome, Stevey B, and AliCat
Another noticeable shift in the volume levels. This time the entire track is lower than the majority of the tracks on the album. At least the vocal volume in comparison to the instrumental volume are matched up well. The subject matter here is a good one- it involves enjoying music in different settings. Every emcee on this track does a pretty damn good job of staying on topic without sounding too similar and mix it up lyrically between them in a way that gives each verse a fresh feel to it. Nicely done.
19- Ain’t Chasin’ Her
I feel like this track repeats a lot of the surface issues about the situation used in the subject matter. Also, there were several times when the wording of certain phrases felt off. Let me explain what I mean. “Hung with the shady crowd, a web of lies she did spin”. The ending to this line throws it off because this is not something you would say in every day conversation. I have noticed this happening on several tracks throughout the album, and it does hinder the ‘flow’ of the lyrics as well as the conneciton with the audience. This is one of the tracks on the album I would like to see pulled and remade.
20- Full Metal feat. Slander Slim, Stevey B, and SBS
This track has a great idea to build with, and does a fairly good job capturing the concept. The hook could maybe use a deeper voice to contrast the higher vocals, helping everyone distinguish everything clearly. The last verse really brings everything together for me. The delivery and change up while using some imagery to give a visual with the words comes together nicely.
21- Wolves feat. MP and Kyle Vest
The track open with a refreshing round of double-sided bars and, when paired with the hook, gives the album a completely new sound as we get near the end. The first verse is on point front beginning to end. The hook is one of my favorites on the album. NoShoes is pretty methodical on the second verse, and he’s already said everything in this verse (in one form or another) several times throughout the album. Still, “Wolves” is one of the hardest and most likeable songs on The NoShoes and JimSquints Variety Show.
The concluding song for The NoShoes and JimSquints Variety Show is pretty fitting for the album, yet feels a little lackluster due to the scattered content. While the mood, tempo of the beats as well as the lyrics, and laid back approach from the emcee paint a picture that could be compared to a lot of what is heard on this album, it really goes without saying that the last song is your last chance to impress your listeners and should be capitalized on. “GrumbleVerse” is solid, but not the way I would have closed this one out.
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ZEVIL: THE MIXTAPE
Get your copy of Zevil: The Mixtape by Zindie Huston here.
G Planet, DeDeDe, Evergreen, I Rule, Mostly Sunny ’14, Flash, Man, 4Luv, Bring The Storm, Crocs, L!K3, KidKicks, Full Metal, and Wolves.
THE WRITE UP
There is some great content and topics brought out with this album, but there are some repetitious and bland areas as well. Most of the features, and there are plenty of featured artists, were able to add some flavor while some missed the mark. I feel like there were a couple of tracks that could have been left off and the album, as a whole, would have came together even better, especially when considering the definition of ‘variety’. Honestly, I haven’t heard much out of nerdcore as a whole. The NoShoes and JimSquints Variety Show puts it on the map for me.
🌟 🌟 🌟
(3 out of 5 stars)
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