Monday, January 30th, 2017

NSG – Eyelashes

The future sound of London?


Alfred Soto: Forget the diminishing returns of Stormzy and Wiley. The sense of play on the Afrobeat winner “Eyelashes” gets my veins flowing. This group rhymes “big trousers,” “ISIS” and compares eyelashes to paintbrushes with unforced dexterity.

Jonathan Bradley: From the distinct Auto-Tuned melody lines to the roiling skank of a rhythm more supple than its stiff 808 construction would suggest, “Eyelashes” sounds more West African than what would usually accompany the familiarly acid pronunciations of a British MC. The London in this hybrid comes through in its gray English chill: the sleet synths, frosty snare hits, and a low-end with the murky creep of dubstep at its more uncompromising. The sound is more arresting than the song — the chorus is far more interested in “big trousers” than I am — but I would like to hear more from where this came.

David Sheffieck: A thrilling whirlwind of sound rendered a coherent whole by an adept and flexible production, this is the most fun I’ve had listening to a song in this (admittedly young) year. The resurgence of rap groups has been one of my favorite recent trends, giving artists a venue to balance each others’ strengths and unify their voices behind a single message, and this does it better than many: there’s never a moment that doesn’t introduce some new element, some new voice, doesn’t support the propulsive flow of the track. This is one of those songs that sends me straight to Soundcloud to get caught up on the rest of the group’s work.

Mark Sinker: Woozier and more mysterious than earlier NSG releases, a local posse’s semi-tough group affect — never entirely menacing despite themselves — swapped here for a lilting, almost keening Auto-Tune gang dance, a lovely, intimate, in-head 3D lurch staged for no one’s joy but their own.

Ryo Miyauchi: The beat behind NSG sounds like a straight-up battle track with high-voltage bass springing up from a bed of sputtering percussion. They somehow find pockets between the rough bumps to write a melody. And their nonchalance posits their message closer to a “this is how it’s done” than a “you can’t touch this.”

Thomas Inskeep: NSG are decent rappers, but the Jamaica-via-Nigeria beat is a little too meh to really get me excited. Also, who titles a song “Eyelashes”?

Lilly Gray: I jumped all over another Jukebox entry that had a voice that i just couldn’t stand, so there’s satisfying cosmic justice in hearing a singer whose delivery and timbre make hearing what would be an otherwise tiring hook fun each and every go-round. I can do a little mental check on every loop of the eyelashes/paintbrushes/trousers slant rhyme: Am I enjoying this? Is he gonna keep me here for yet another careful wub-wub on the edge of a hypnotic bounce? The answer is yes, every time. 

Micha Cavaseno: While in the last two years, you heard that grime’s Drake-endorsed “comeback” had begun, what nobody told you was that it was all bullshit perpetuated by old men wishing it was 2005 again, ex-dubstep nerds and university students who trust rappers more than their own neighbors. The dominant sounds of London were in actuality road rap as done by the likes of J Hus, #67, and Tion Wayne or the growing UK-based Afrobeats scene pioneered by the likes of Mista Silva, Moelogo, or Kwamz & Flava. Over time, this has pooled together into a new scene mixing the two genres with R&B, dancehall, pop, and more into a distinct sound that’s not trying to bombard you with new CONTENT but simply works to evoke as many moods as it can. NSG are one of many groups who’ve had a number of great songs over the years including “Pinga,” “We Dey,” “Love & Affection,” and their pro-African anthem/diss song “No Jamo Full Ghana.” “Eyelashes” is as good an introduction as any; it’s NSG at their most playful, with a hook comparing eyes to paintbrushes while producer OGD makes the track move from danceable and breezy to glorious and majestic to menacing. Its so self-satisfied, maybe it’s no wonder that something so content with its own existence, rather than demanding your attention, isn’t being pushed quite as heavily as “THE SOUND YOU NEED TO HEAR.”

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