Nyck Caution is a member of Joey Bada$$’s infamous Pro Era collective. Since being in the group, he’s released a slew of mixtapes, which have certainly had their moments but lacked memorability overall. Last week, he released his long-awaited debut album Anywhere But Here. With features from Denzel Curry, Kota the Friend, and even Joey himself, can Nyck Caution make the statement fans have been waiting for?
After listening to the heartfelt intro “December 24th,” it’s clear there’s a special aura around this record. Hunger, will, and the desire to achieve something extraordinary are the main pillars that continue to elevate the 27-year-olds performance again and again throughout each track. Whether it’s the remorseful lyrical exercise “Anywhere But Here” or the paranoia filled “Motion Sickness,” the exploration of mental health and self-worth is pretty compelling and thought-provoking. Building on his character, “Dirt On Your Name” takes Caution to new levels as on top of addressing his inner doubts, he vividly addresses issues within the current music industry in one of the most profound ways seen in recent memory. While layers are added in every corner possible, “Product Of My Environment” is the most intricate piece in this department as, along with himself, Kota the Friend and Flatbush Zombies member Erick the Architect allude to their troubled pasts yet simultaneously toast to their futures. On the contrary of Nyck’s complex songwriting, we see him enter bold territory on the melodically transcending “Something To Remember Me By”. Hearing him step into this different atmosphere is a nice change of pace but also a rewarding moment of suspense and uncertainty. Speaking of times of uncertainty, the climatic “Things Could Be Worse” is one of the most bittersweet songs of the year due to its heartfelt performances from both Caution, CJ Fly and indie singer Jake Luttrell. Overall, the introspective dive into Nyck Caution’s mind certainly proves his worth as an MC and as one of the top guys in Pro Era.
Moving away from the project’s personal side, the rest of the tracklist takes the hard-hitting sound Nyck and his entire collective are known for and spices it up with his signature flair. We first see this factored in on the standout “How You Live It,” which showcases the abrasive lyricism of Caution while also teasing us with a ruthless guest appearance from Joey Bada$$ himself. The cuts follow up, “What You Want,” only raises tensions even more as Nyck goes on an aggressive rant where he clowns both his competition and haters. Balancing these tense sections out, “Coat Check/ Session 47” opens up a new side of the 27-year-old where we see him kick back, relax, and address some important topics in a brief and amusing way. Out of the albums 14 tracks and 37 minutes, the best cut is hands down “Bad Day”, a crazed two-minute banger that showcases Cautions cooperative skills as he trades lines with a fired-up Denzel Curry, who takes an early claim at feature of the year. Wrapping this world together on the persevering “Kids That Wish,” Nick Caution truly does everything within his range to flesh out his skills as an MC and deliver a vocal experience all rap fans can enjoy.
Behind the boards, there’s a well-equipped soundtrack that embodies all corners of hip hop. The most integral aspect of the soundscape is that nearly every beat has a super distinct feel. Whether it’s the electro-trap hybrid of “How You Live It” or the raw authenticity of the string-based “Product Of My Environment”, there’s something for nearly everyone. “Things Could Be Worse” was a definite sonic standout due to its complex chord progression and powerful instrumental bridges. “Dirt On Your Name” was one of the tracks I appreciated the most as it takes a classic boom-bap percussion pattern and adds a minor chord pattern to architect a gloomy atmosphere like none i’ve heard before. Both of the “Vin Skit’s” were pretty funny due to the context of the record their placed within. Their short length makes sure they don’t detract from the other songs’ momentum, and the actual words being spoken are pretty humorous and reflective of the album’s narrative and Nyck as a person. As the vocal performances dominated on “Bad Day,” so did its pulsing beat, which feels like mayhem to absorb with its frequent horn bursts and fast paced trap drums. As a whole, the sonic spectrum this record covers is quite frankly remarkable and a feat most artists can’t achieve on their best day.
Although this January has definitely been a slow one so far music-wise, Nyck Caution’s debut LP is a courageous artistic statement that is so far the best project ive heard all year. It’s versatile, lyrically sound, well-produced, and it’s topped off by some of the most audacious features the cultures received in a few months. Going forward, Nyck Caution has certainly moved up my radar, and if he can build upon this record thoroughly, he will be able to become something truly amazing.
- Versatile subject matter
- Solid lyricism
- Diverse and well-produced soundtrack
- Great features
- Some ideas lacked expansion and development
Written by: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator founder and owner of Fantastic Hip Hop