A Brief Word On Nostic
By Mark Carpenter
March 29, 2012
Hello everyone; apologies for the late entry this week. I wanted to take the opportunity to urge everyone to go see Penny Blacks, the subject of next week’s column, when they perform tomorrow night at Bourbon Quarter. I’d also like to remind everyone to send me, not just your music, but any suggestions or tips on Saint John or New Brunswick artists you think are worthy of coverage. I’ll give ’em a listen and we’ll take it from there.
Ok, this week’s entry is on a single song I was sent by SJ hip-hop artist Nostic. I’ll lay my cards on the table: my taste in hip-hop is largely confined to the classic work of 80’s legends like Run-DMC and Public Enemy, the stuff I heard in my formative high-school days. I also liked the Beastie Boys, and a few others springing from that NYC tradition. As rappers hit the bigtime and went commercial or obnoxiously gangsta in the 90’s, my interest in hip-hop per se wore off to the point where it was almost non-existent. Every so often, though, I hear a track I like, and it reminds me that there’s a whole world of underground hip-hop out there that I ought to explore. It’s not typical for music critics to admit their ignorance of this or that genre, particularly one that dominates pop music so thoroughly. One risks being outed as an old fogy or terminally unhip or stuck two decades ago, or what have you. But what the hey, it’s my column.
So all that is to say that when I listened to Nostic’s “Elevated” (Feat. Joseph Koven), I at first tuned it out, as my ear doesn’t usually decode contemporary hip-hop that well. The rush of words, the piano loop, the rhythm clap: all seemed very typical. Where I’m trained as a listener to pick out the nuances in a rock song, even a fairly generic one, a hip-hop song usually has to have a very aggressive hook, or inflammatory lyrics to grab my attention (this being the signature attack of rap music in its early days). However, a second close listen, and the song began to grab me. I began to appreciate the relentlessness of the piano, and how the guitar drone insinuates itself in at about the 2 minute mark. The track has the kind of dark urgency that is precisely the kind of thing I often look for in music, and it confirmed something I’ve felt more and more as I age. Taste is something that is learned, and it becomes possible to appreciate all kinds of music (and all kinds of art, in fact) if you open yourself up to new ways of listening, of experiencing the work. I haven’t listened to Nostic’s previous work yet, but I definitely will.
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