Swangin n’ Bangin: Album Review of Quinn’s “Nomadic Thoughts”

by Tirhakah Love (@GoonTherapy)

Eloquence and antagonism have room to breathe on H-town artist, Quinn’s, Nomadic Thoughts. The battle rapper’s first full-length project is a cruise down the long winding highway of I-45 with 16’s bangin’ in the trunk, stopping  only at NaNa’s house for crawfish and swisher sweets. Nomadic Thoughts feels like a realized project with local production team (consisting of Quinn, himself, and upstarts like Breze and Xaviar Jordan) bolstering Quinn’s southern accented non-fiction allegory.

Quinn’s year’s training in Houston’s underground rap dojo solidified his aggressive lyricism. Everybody is a target. From disingenuous leaders, “public figures be snakin us when they in private” (“F*ck Niggas”), to shady out-of-towners “If you ain’t from the H, advise you not to rock it (“Swangin & Pinin”); if you ain’t 1 hunnit with yours, best protect ya neck. Quinn’s pace is pretty dynamic especially in contrast to the drawn-out, bare, beat breaks that Houston’s slow down sound has popularized. His speedy raps are self-contained, only spilling over the bass drum metronome in small moments like in “Let’s Do It” where Quinn’s sentence structure steals his breath. Quinn’s got a lot of material to cover and sometimes the minimalism works against his natural verbosity. This is usually a tough transition for battle rappers who are more accustomed to rapping acapella. But, on the whole, Quinn’s steez translates pretty well in long form.

Where the album succeeds is in its cultivation of atmosphere. Quinn establishes right off the bat that this record is going to smack you around a bit. Opening with a news anchor describing the ongoing trial of Black Panther leader, Huey Newton, does dip into rap cliché but Quinn places himself in the discursive realm of Newton, Tupac, and other conscious-building black revolutionaries. The album cover, itself, is a testament to Quinn’s inspirations. The aforementioned Tupac, Civil Rights imagery, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes  all grace the hazy thought bubbles that envelopes the album’s thematic leanings. While Quinn lacks the lyrical existentialism that defines those artists, his flows are both accessible and uncompromisingly piercing.

At its base, Nomadic Thoughts, is both a trill reflective on Houston’s southern rap culture and a pressing forward of the paradigm. Quinn isn’t as slow and methodical as most mainstream artists coming out of the South but he leaves just enough of the purpled, bass knocking aesthetic to bridge the gap between what you thought you knew about Houston culture and the stylistically progressive current of the city’s young talent.

Listen to Nomadic Thoughts here

Follow him on Twitter to keep up with new releases.

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