Last summer Detroit native MC Noveliss introduced himself to the world with nostalgia-laden EP “Toonami Tsunamis”. His latest release “Mic Swordz” continues his “only 90s kids will remember this” appeal but hides a few surprises as well…
In case you haven’t heard of Noveliss before, imagine this: take the nerdiest anime enthusiast you could possibly imagine, add the lyrical attitude of Wu-Tang Clan, and the speed and precision of Bruce Lee. He grew up as part of the first generation exposed to anime in the mainstream, and his output reflects this upbringing.
Noveliss’ patented blend of samurai soundbites is enhanced by production from Shepard Sounds, Vibe Sounds and fellow Clear Soul Forces member Illajide. This premium arsenal of boom-bap is a perfect accompaniment for the lyrical ronin.
“Brand New” is a particular standout, featuring a sample from Craig Mack’s 90s one-hit wonder “Flava In Ya Ear”. This throwback to the bravado and boisterousness of the 90s hip-hop scene is an interesting contrast to Noveliss’ usually laid-back delivery on the other tracks.
This kind of hip-hop probably won’t be for everyone; Noveliss’ lyrics rely on a knowledge and familiarity with anime/fan culture that a general audience will lack, but those in the know will appreciate the amount of knowledge and skill that went into integrating all these references into the lyrics (a far cry from the lazy namedropping in Soulja Boy’s cringe-inducing “Anime”).
However, among all these harder to relate to tracks Noveliss still drops “Last Words”. The track tackles numerous issues in the industry, from weak lyrical artists who plate their nonsense in gold, the dangers of being black in an America rife with police shootings, and the media being allowed to dictate whose lives are worth praying for.
“Last Words” is incendiary and more likely to resound with a general audience, although it does seem out of place among tracks about Star Wars and Naruto.
Either way this is a pretty ambitious project. Encompassing a singular theme over 9 tracks of lightsaber degree heat while still managing not to sound redundant or repetitive is no easy task, but Noveliss takes to it like he was born for this. He once again proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s one of the most dangerous guys on the mic you’ve never heard of.
You can purchase the EP on Bandcamp.
Feature image photo credit; Toma Abuzz