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Hip hop is an art form and culture that is constantly changing. Musically speaking, new technology and the latest trends have a very real influence on the records released from year to year. It's easy to get caught up in the pop culture hype machine and triplet beats that currently dominate rap. Trends come and go, but the proven elements of hip hop music will continue to be relevant for years to come. For instance, MC's that spit ferocious bars over dusty, head-splitting beats will never go out of style. Enter Detroit's Nolan The Ninja and his latest record, YEN.
Released on DJ Soko's imprint, Left Of Center (LOC), YEN picks up where Nolan's earlier projects left off. Nolan, who has been gaining momentum in Detroit and beyond, continues to demonstrate his ability to rip a microphone. Underneath Nolan's agile delivery is an element of storytelling that is sometimes lost in rap. From Nolan's rhymes to guest appearances by Blu, Add-2, Denmark Vessey, and Quelle Chris, there is no shortage of heavy bars on YEN. "Calisthenics," which features Royce Da 5'9, is an exceptional track that showcases Royce's talent and lyrical depth. With stand out production from Black Milk, 14KT, Chanes, Denmark Vessey, Scud One, and Nolan himself, YEN is 14 tracks of non-stop heat that creates the perfect backdrop for Nolan's strong delivery.
While certain trends in hip hop move one way, it's clear that Nolan The Ninja is content going the other direction. His new album isn't reliant on catchy hooks, trap beats or the glorification of party culture. Instead, YEN is a combination of heavy bars and head-splitting beats that accurately reflects Nolan's perspective and life experiences. YEN exemplifies the type of music that will remain relevant even after the current trends have faded and something new becomes popular.