This ‘Nosaj Thing’ review was written by Alex Whitaker, a GIGsoup contributor.
At first glance it is easy to mistake ‘Nosaj Thing’, aka James Chung, as just another producer to emerge off the long production line of LA’s hi-hop scene. The fact he’s worked with Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper (who, ironically, features on this album) and Kid Cudi like most of his contemporaries doesn’t help his case at all but what Chung brings to the table with his latest effort Fated suggests he’s broken away from the cliché of hyper-hi-hats, low punchy bass-driven beats and dreamy synths. Not that I wish this to be a criticism of his debut 2009 album ‘Drift’ but a mere recognition that it was very much of its time- hip-hop has moved on.
Sure, you’ve still got these recognisable elements of an LA producer but what ‘Nosaj Thing’ creates on ‘Fated’ takes you from the content, swirling sounds of 2009 to the dark, sinister and stupor of 2015. The opening track ‘Sci’ sets the tone beautifully with cross-fading vocals and momentary lapses of nothingness. Before long you are introduced to the predictable yet entirely necessary cameo from Chance The Rapper on ‘Cold Stares’ with his trademark monotone lyrical input fitting the emotion induced from the production beautifully and distorted vocal samplings, reminiscent of Shlohmo’s 2011 Bad Vibes with far greater subtlety.
Tracks such as ‘UV3’ and ‘Realize’ demonstrate the impeccable sampling of this record. Your bog-standard sampling on an electronica record can often leave you distracted but Chung manages to use the samples as an instrument- an extra layer to the bass and synths. You listening to a far more rounded sound with a sense of coherence you may not necessarily associate with contemporary hip-hop production.
If I had to criticise this album? You are left feeling numb by the end of the all-too-short finale. And this can be said of the entire album in fact. With most tracks barely clocking up 3 minutes I was left in want, and not in a good way. Far more could have been said. Whilst this album leaves you feel like you’re floating through space, it doesn’t let that feeling last.
However, this is an album to listen to on a quiet-evening. It does leave you feeling melancholic and uneasy but that shouldn’t deter you. It takes you on a journey through the stratosphere, staring up the stars and gazing down on the world below. You won’t touch a drop of alcohol at the beginning of that quiet-evening but you’ll feel intoxicated by the end.