In an era where most hip-hop artists claim to ‘break new ground’ or ‘challenge the boundaries’, yet more often than not only deliver on diluted retreads of stale rap clichés, Canadian/American duo The Nope (Psy of the Oddities and Moka Only) offer a different approach: they drop all pretence of treading new waters. As The Nope emcee Psy shares, “We’re exactly the same as every other music group you’ve ever heard before. So, prepare for absolute boredom.” For once, a rapper tells the truth.
The Nope is at best reactionary, their subversiveness a mere academic contrivance. Purported Dadaists, Psy and Moka Only claim to be “anti-everything,” crafting songs about “whatever we feel at the time.” And with tracks like “Mickey D’s”, an opus on eating at the imperialist Golden Arches chain three days in a row while recording, or another entitled “Chant’n’Sing”, where Moka confides that, after airing woman troubles, “I can understand why some of yall want to pee on ’em man,” the claim of speaking what is on their mind in unguarded fashion is not to be questioned.
Yet, I don’t know if it is to be lauded either, even if it makes troubled RnB crooners sympathetic. Sometimes naked honesty can amount to a case ‘When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong’, rather than a nuanced artistic declaration. Though, in fairness, how a listener views the duo depends on whether he or she takes The Nope serious. The Nope creates feel-good nonsense, mood-music hearkening to a bygone era when acts like Ultra Mag and Y’all So Stupid had a rightful place. And Psy and Moka’s talents shine, regardless of whether their gifts are realised on material of any depth or significance.
Instead, Moka’s soulful off-kilter production and Psy and Moka’s playful lyricism and nimble rhyme-schemes recall the creative lightheartedness of early-to-mid 90s hip hop, except without Jurassic 5 or Ugly Duckling-like anachronism. Written by: Daniel Saad