Sit back, relax, but be cautious of the pain you may feel while listening to TROY Nōka’s album, Cafe Society.
The record opens up with the song “Noah’s Arc,” where we are welcomed into the world Nōka has created through beautiful live music and soothing singing. As the track progresses, we can see the meaning beyond these beautifully sung words is quite dark. The word pain is repeated over and over again, and once this section of the song settles out, gunshots welcome us to the true experience this album offers. The curtain is unmasked, and Nōka talks about issues regarding violence about murder. This leads into the funky “Top of the Food Chain.” From a production standpoint, this track is amazing, and the words of Nōka are just as good. He is creating an anthem of various issues and injustices he needs to get off his chest, and the presentation of these ideas is quite memorable. Troy Nōka has such a musical sense that it allows him to layer the track in such an intricate way throughout. This principle is seen even more in the smooth and groovy “Life of the Party.” Topically, this track is not as rich as the last two moments, but its shining sonic landscape makes it one of the most fun moments on the entire record. The vocal display from Troy here also shows how versatile he is as he pushes both his melodic and rapping capabilities to the max.
“Talk to God” is an amazing moment of artistic genius. It opens up with an electric guitar which creates a dream-like atmosphere. TROY Nōka builds on this as he has a conversation with God. He asks God about many of the problems in the world and ultimately reasons through many of the problems we face, finding peace in the conclusions he reaches. Overall this track really maps out the artistic mission Nōka is on, and it strengthens everything to come through the rest of the experience. “We All Black” is a sonically bright anthem that talks about unity and self-love in the African American community. The track promotes love and triumphs through hatred, which is conveyed so powerfully through Nōka’s performance and the liveliness of the instrumental.
“Working Hard” is an anthem personal to Troy Nōka but can be felt by anyone listening. He tells a story from his past and coveys the narrative he is trying to get across so well through his direct storytelling ability. His words are powerful and natural, and just like the rest of the album, his knack for instrumental layering makes this track sound perfect. “She Knows” rides the momentum of the previous track building an overall more dramatic feel with its intense piano, which fleshes itself into one of the best beats on the entire album. Fleshing out this sonic backdrop, TROY Nōka has a conversation with his partner where he raps from the perspective of being in a toxic relationship. The song paints a powerful picture of troubled bonds and how one inflicts damage on themselves when within a situation like the one presented.
“Top Down” is one of the most fun tracks on the entire album. Troy Nōka’s upbeat singing and the lively instrumental culminate to make the listener’s stress evaporate during the song three minute and 18-second duration. “On Flakka” is a much more powerful track that has more substance. From the instrumental to the vocal performance, nothing has really changed from Nōka aside from his writing which focuses on the spread and effects of drugs in communities. This is a moment where Nōka shows what he does best. Layering a song that covers an idea that is so important with fun and beautifully sounding instrumentals.
Nearing the album’s finale, the song “Not Thinking (Smokey)” is a powerful showing. Nōka’s storytelling here is some of the deepest on the entire album as he tells a story of loss and change. His ability to create vivid scenes that we quickly understand makes this moment one of kind. Bringing things to a close, the self-titled track closes the curtain wrapping up the album’s thoughts through some powerful spoken word. The world is changing, but many aspects of life haven’t, and TROY lays this out perfectly in his brief monologue.
All in all, Cafe Society is a very good record that showcases the high level of talent that TROY Nōka possesses. His sense for musical layering and production is top-notch, and the themes he lays out on this album are super powerful. My only real complaint with this album is that I wish Nōka had drawn out the ideas; the intro opened up a lot better. He builds on them in some tracks while others have a completely different direction. Overall, TROY Nōka has the ability to become a star in the music game, so be sure to check him out!