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Nu – This is Babylon (Album Review)

UnHeard Entertainment has just completed a trifecta of album releases with Nu’s drop of This is Babylon produced entirely by Ben Beam. Following recently released projects from his label mates, Mos Stef and Chemi$t, Nu finalizes the algorithm by dropping this powerful, poetic, revolutionary album he dubbed This Is Babylon. The wait was well worth it and executed to perfection; the militance, honesty, viewpoints on societal dynamics and government-delivered with the spirit of Capital Steez, Nas, and Joey Bad A$$. A deep listening, banger for true fans and partakes of the art.

Nu is the figurative spearhead of UnHeard Ent., an illustrious cohort of emcees and producers that bring a breath a fresh air, raw talent, and heavy substance to the Charleston hip-hop scene. Hailing from Harlem, New York-he brings that ‘up-top’ grit, that precision, that style-to the coast of Charleston. UnHeard Ent is well known for their hardcore, almost battle rap-like styles, with potent, well-crafted content to match, and Nu stands at its forefront and displays it an elite way with This Is Babylon.

This Is Babylon is a powerful, militant ode for the minds, bodies, and souls of the black community. Beyond the conceptual framework of the album, this is a one of kind lyrical display that just raised the bar in the Charleston hip hop community. Nu provides unfiltered dialogue and ideologies to push forward concepts such as community reform, anti-government policing, and acknowledging and defeating the strongholds of racism with peace or otherwise, etc – in not only the black community, but Charleston and eventually the world.

“Hate That Hate” opens the album with bright woodwinds, classic skip beats and kick drums, backing the commanding delivery and ‘punch you in the mouth’ lyricism of Nu, which continues for the next 14 songs. In this track, he talks about being aware and staying keen to the game-be no one’s fool and play it cool.

Adding the grace of his UnHeard brother MosStef into the mix, the album continues with “4Grabz”, one of the more catchy grooves of the album. The smooth, mono-tone, melodic hook adds a nice bounce to the track and both emcees delivered unyielding verses dropping gems of wisdom, and giving their own interpretations of the concept: ‘the world is yours’.

Pushing along in This is Babylon, Nu shifts towards shedding light on the various sides of his truth and perceptions of government, police brutality, self corruption, etc. Lyrics of fearless rebellion and black revolution establish the atmosphere for the album. Songs like “Settlement”, “Halo”, and “Ain’t Safe” tap into harsh realities of systematic oppression and how Nu is avoiding jail and death with unwavering resistance to the ‘powers that be’ are a pivotal backbone of the album.

This is Babylon also hosts a handful of well-placed and executed features. Other than MosStef who features on “4Grabz” and “4Ever” the album features Righteous Rel and also has a silky-smooth, boutique driven collab with BluFlame James on “Come On”. Full of the painful stories and dark realities that have molded their outlooks on this life. Fearlessly dodging death, jail, and temptation in order to continue this journey towards using this art to open eyes and minds and not becoming another statistic.

Throughout the album you also hear the Gil Scott Heron-like spoken word of renowned poet Godfrey. His voice and tone adds to the depth that is already present in the album, as he adds a few intros and outros in tracks like “Godfrey’s Interlude”, “Riots”, and “Funds Up”. Adding these subtle elements of poetry and spoken word takes me back to the early Dungeon Family days and presents a certain level of ambiguity throughout the album that consistently draws you in.

“Riots” enters the mix as an honest observation from Nu and how the shift from New York to Charleston added a layer to his revolutionary processes. He draws a parallel between the struggles of his trials and tribulations as an impressionable youth in New York, and the feelings he battles with seeing and experiencing the remnants of Charleston’s dark history of slavery and oppression still existing and remaining pillars of ‘Charleston culture’ despite the ‘harsh reminders’ they give its natives. Shedding light on that, paired with relentless and deep black pride, is a formidable weapon against the confusion and ruckus of this crooked machine we are subjected to be a part of.

Tapping into the ever competitive aspects of this hip-hop art, Nu breaks it down over the deep piano and bass guitar thumps of “Pink Panther”. Exhibiting how and why is elite a lyricist with a revolutionary vision that can’t be touched, shaken, or stirred by the opposition be it government, police, or competition in this industry.

The last quarter of This Is Babylon hosts a myriad of intricate lyricism, vivid imagery and food for thought. “Fun/ds” taps into the concept of making it against all odds and choosing to do so by setting higher standards for self and reflecting that in his execution.

I enjoy the fact that Nu continuously sheds his perspective on some of the toxic social dynamics involved in government, the music community, and society in general. “Move On” is a straightforward, crescendo about the dangers of not being authentic, brown-nosing, switch siding, etc that takes away from the genuine, raw nature of not only the art, but the community. #GxldApproved ‘bidness’.

“Bill” shifts the tone from the people, to the system, and sets the energy for the exit of the album. Harping on the financial crisis caused by capitalism, greed, and the control of the elite, Nu spits the recipe to begin the rebellion against this system and still ‘get a dolla’.

The remainder of This Is Babylon, “Figaro” feat Righteous Rel and “SICC”, sail out in a more introspective approach as Nu talks about how he’s reaching and exceeding his goals-and stands on his level of determination, talent, and life force that aid him on this journey. Although, he stands strong on being one of the most revered lyricists in the city, he feels the weight and knows the people around him do to, but in different ways. However, he knows and understands these risks reap the unlimited reward: revolution, legacy, education, and thorough influence through the mode of hip-hop.

This is officially the #GxldApproved album of the summer. The message, the intellect, the level of presence and top tier lyricism-ONTOP of stellar, form-fitting instrumentation from the creator of The Charleston Underground, multi-hyphenate artist Ben Beam, This Is Babylon is ‘ONE OF THOSE’. Nu hosted a truly outstanding debut of the album at The Charleston PourHouse June 30th, and will be hosting “The UnHeard Experience Reloaded” at The Royal American on August 5th, featuring another line up of highly talented artists rooted here in the city of Charleston.

Tap the link and get in tune with the UnHeard Experience and dedicate about 45-50 minutes of your day to give a solid, thorough listen to This Is Babylon. You will definitely be running it back a few times.