Album Review | Nolan the Ninja – SPORTEE

This album was released on April 19th this year. I first started listening to Nolan the Ninja in 2016 around the time he released his he[art]. album. Before checking that project out, I went back and listened to his first rap album, and I was really impressed. He reminded me a lot of Joey Bada$$ to be honest. He has a similar delivery & aesthetic. I haven’t actually heard any of his instrumental albums. I’ll have to check those out eventually. Anyway, I loved his first album, and he[art]. was even better. It was cool to see that he signed with Mello Music Group. They made a good choice. I’m expecting this to be one of the best albums of the year honestly. I’m really looking forward to it. Every song is produced by 5ynoT, except where noted.

1. INTRO

Alright, this is a thirty four second long instrumental intro. The beat is pretty dope. I’m not really sure how necessary this was though. Obviously it’s not something that I actually have a problem with. I’m never gonna listen to it again though.

2. ORANGES featuring Jaye Prime

This track was released as the lead single for this album, and I think I heard it when it came out, but I don’t really remember. The beat on this track is pretty solid. It’s not amazing or anything, but I like it. Nolan’s flow on this first verse is nice. He still sounds pretty aggressive, but his delivery isn’t quite as over-the-top as it was on previous albums. The first verse is dope. The hook is pretty simplistic, but I like it. The backing vocals from Jaye Prime sound really nice. The second verse was really good. None of the lines really stood out to me that much, but his flow and delivery were really nice. He sounded great on this shit. The music video for this song is pretty cool too. I like this shit a lot. It’s dope.

3. TIES featuring Latasha

This jazzy beat is really dope. Nolan’s delivery sounds slightly more aggressive here than it was on the previous track. It’s still not as crazy as it was on previous efforts though. He just said he’s not tryna be still rapping at 49 years old. I feel like that should bother me, but at the same time I’m not sure if I’d even wanna still hear new shit from him at that point. His verse was pretty nice. The hook is super simplistic, but it gets the job done. Okay, Latasha is rapping on the second verse. Hmmm… Wait a minute… Is this Latasha Alcindor? Hmm… Lemme see… Oh, damn. It IS her. Okay, that’s cool. I guess she’s just going by her first name these days. Anyway, her verse was fine. I think I enjoyed this one more than her verse on Sammus’ last album. That’s not really saying much though honestly. I liked this beat a lot at first, but it got old pretty quickly. I still like the song overall. It’s not as good as the previous one, but I definitely enjoyed it to some extent. It’s good.

4. FARO

I really like the beat on this track a lot. It sounds really light, and slightly melodic. It’s still got that signature boom bap sound that Nolan always rhymes over though. I noticed that N.Y. State of Mind reference before he started rapping. That was cool. The first verse is pretty good. His delivery is still pretty aggressive, but to me his vocal tone sounds higher than it usually does.

These niggas posing, pretending that they pack a firearm
But wouldn’t step into harm’s way
And truthfully they wouldn’t squeeze a sponge
To me it’s corny, but to them it’s fun

The hook on this track is disappointingly simplistic. There’s zero instrumental variation. The entire song is just one loop repeating over and over. The hook is just him saying the following lines twice.

It’s funny how I turn my passion into profit
Straight out the mud, my niggas got it
And they all from the block, my niggas ’bout it

It doesn’t really add anything to the song at all. The second verse was cool. I’m not gonna lie; this song let me down. The production wasn’t as fleshed out as I was expecting, and the hook did nothing for me. His flow was cool on the verses, but very little of what he said actually stood out to me that much. I think it’s a good song overall, but when it first started I was expecting it to be great.

5. SPORT’S THEME co-produced by Nolan the Ninja

This is a 40 second long instrumental interlude. It’s honestly probably my favorite beat on the album so far, but that frankly isn’t saying much. The beats on this project have honestly been pretty lackluster so far. Hopefully that changes as the album progresses.

6. 2 Cents featuring Chuck Inglish

It’s cool to see Chuck Inglish’s name on this project, but I would’ve rather had him produce this song than rap on it. I think he’s a super underrated producer, and a beat from him definitely would’ve stood out on a project like this. The beat on this song isn’t very good to me at all. It’s fine. It just doesn’t stand out at all. It feels really basic. The first verse from Chuck was pretty nice. I’ve just always disliked his voice. It’s kinda Mac Miller-ish in that it puts me to sleep. He just sounds tired, and it makes me feel tired. His verse was cool though. I liked it. The hook is really simplistic, just like with every other track. It doesn’t really add much to the song for me, but it serves as a good break between the verses. Nolan did his thing on the final verse. Again, none of the lyrics really stood out to me, but his flow was cool. This is easily my least favorite song so far. Hmm… I’m trying to decide whether or not I actually like this song. Ehhh… Nah… You know what? I think I’m gonna pass on this one. Nothing about it really stands out to me in a positive way. The verses are kinda cool, but everything else about it bores me. It’s not a bad song, but I’m not gonna be listening to it again in the future. It’s okay.

7. GEMS featuring A-Minus co-produced by Nolan the Ninja

Oh shit. Okay, here we go. This beat is kinda cool. I like how they mixed these really dirty, grimy drums with those bright sounding bells. It’s not an amazing beat or anything, but I like it. The first verse from Nolan was pretty good. I’m not gonna lie, I really miss that super aggressive, over-the-top delivery he had on past projects. He still sounds good here though. There’s not actually a hook on this track. There’s just a short break between each verse. I actually liked A-Minus’ verse more than Nolan’s to be honest. Neither of them are amazing, but they’re both pretty good. The more I listen to the beat the less I like it. I thought pairing the dirty drums with those bells was a cool combination at first, but I don’t actually think it really works that well. It’s definitely a more interesting beat than that of the previous track though. Overall, I like this track. It’s not amazing or anything, but I enjoyed it to some extent. I think it’s pretty good.

8. DEITY co-produced by Nolan the Ninja

This beat is kinda cool. It sounds like a slightly lo-fi old school Soul beat. It’s not that good. It’s fine though. I’m actually glad Nolan’s rapping with a more toned down delivery on this track. The way he was rapping before wouldn’t have worked over this instrumental. The first verse is cool.

You play the type
To pray for Instagram & Twitter likes
My angle differs, that’s where I’m different
Possessions can’t appeal my interest
With my lady smoking swishers while she browsing Pinterest

He didn’t really say anything that attention grabbing, but it was cool. The simplistic hook is nothing special. The beat switches up about halfway through the song. The second instrumental kinda reminds me of Butch & Sundance by Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip. Or maybe I’m thinking of Steppin’ It Up by A Tribe Called Quest. Yeah I think that’s the one I was thinking of. Anyway, the second verse on this track is way more interesting than the first one in my opinion. It’s honestly a really great verse. His flow is really dope. That might actually be the best verse on the whole album so far. That shit was nice. If the entire song sounded like the first half, this song wouldn’t be that great to me. I think this is one of the best tracks on the whole album so far though. This shit is dope.

9. ACE co-produced by Nolan the Ninja

I actually like this beat. I think it’s pretty dope. The first verse from Nolan was cool. That reference to No Limit was kinda clever. It wasn’t amazing or anything lyrically, but I enjoyed it. His flow was cool. He still doesn’t sound nearly as aggressive as he did on previous records. He still sounds really energetic though. There’s not really a hook. There’s just a short break between the two verses. The second verse was better than the first one in my opinion. He actually said something that intrigued me for once.

I done seen a lot & been through problems
Seen my uncle off that heroin nod
Dozin’ off on a topic, that’s irresponsible shit
If you’re a man you make your own decisions
I’m too emotionless for interventions
I got my own to vent with

It would’ve been nice to hear him elaborate on his uncle’s addiction. I mean, on one hand it’s really none of the listeners’ business. However, it would’ve been a much more interesting topic than the frankly generic content the rest of this album has had up to this point. Anyway, I enjoyed this song. It’s not really a standout track. He doesn’t do anything to make it super memorable. It’s literally just two solid verses over a cool beat. I like it though. It’s pretty good.

10. SUPPLY featuring T3

It’s cool to see T3 featured on this project. I haven’t heard from him in a while. I actually had no idea there was a Slum Village album released in 2016. I’m gonna have to check that one out eventually. Anyway, I think this track definitely has one of the best beats on the album so far. That’s not really saying much. I like it though. It’s pretty good. Man… I’m honestly really not a fan of this new delivery Nolan has. Before his delivery was so raw that he sounded threatening. His delivery here makes his voice sound really high. It’s honestly kinda annoying. It’s like he transformed from a pit bull into a poodle. Jeez, I hope that isn’t too harsh. It’s not like it completely ruins the album for me. I still like him as a rapper. It’s just kinda disappointing. His verse was fine though. It wasn’t any better or worse than his other verses on this project so far. The hook from T3 is pretty cool, and I actually really liked his verse. He did a great job on this track. His verse seemed like it ended a line or two too early, but that’s just a nitpick. This is a standout track on the album for me so far. I like it. It’s dope.

11. KRUSH featuring Black Nix

This track started with a pretty average beat, but it ended and changed to a different beat after 20 seconds. The second beat is pretty cool. It’s kind of a lo-fi, melodic, jazzy instrumental. If you follow me closely you know I’m not really a fan of when people rap over lo-fi production. This is fine though. He thankfully didn’t decide to bury his vocals in the mix. I can hear everything he’s saying. This track actually has some different content than the other songs. As you might’ve guessed from the title—probably not though tbh—he’s rapping to some girl he has a crush on. It’s not the most interesting subject matter in the world, but it’s at least different from the other shit so far. The first verse was cool. The hook from Black Nix isn’t bad. I’m not familiar with him, but he did his thing on this track. Hmmm… The song just ended. The outro from Black Nix didn’t really do anything for me. That half assed singing he was doing wasn’t very good. You know what? I really don’t think I’m gonna be coming back to this. The beat was kinda cool at first, but after about half a minute of listening to it, it started to sound REALLY shitty to me. It just sounds way too muddy. It’s not really enjoyable to me at all. The rapping from Nolan was fine. It wasn’t that impressive. This song is just really insipid to me. Absolutely nothing about this track stands out in a positive way. I didn’t care for the production at all. The rapping was passable, but not particularly enjoyable. It was just kinda there. This is about as average as Hip Hop gets. It’s mediocre to me.

12. PIQUE

The beat on this track is actually kinda nice. On any other project it probably wouldn’t impress me that much, but it’s definitely one of the better beats on this album. This song is just under a minute and a half long. It’s just one verse. I like it a lot though. I think this is one of the best verses on the whole album so far.

Verbally peaking whenever we speaking to lurkers who peeping
I know you see we leave niggas piqued

It’s a really simplistic song. As I said, it’s just one dope verse over a cool beat. That’s not really much more simplistic than any of the other tracks on the album so far though to be honest. I don’t really have any major gripes with this one. I think the verse is dope, and the beat was cool too. I mean, nothing about it is amazing or anything. It’s definitely good though. I enjoyed this. It’s dope.

13. MORALS featuring Boog Brown & Charlie Smarts

Man, this album is taking me forever to get through. It’s been almost a week since I started working on this review. I can’t remember the last time I had this much trouble getting through one project. Anyway, the beat on this track is pretty cool. I think it’s one of the better beats on the album so far. Again, that’s not really saying much. I like it though. The first verse from Nolan was pretty good. I think he dissed Young Thug.

I ain’t got no time for thug ass niggas carrying purses
Next thing you know, they’ll be doing a fucking curtsy
Yo, show no mercy with the pen that I hold
When potent is scrolled ain’t no telling how far it could go

That was nice. The second verse from Boog Brown was pretty solid. It wasn’t really that impressive, but she did her thing. The final verse from Charlie Smarts was really cool. It was weird as hell, but I liked it. He just has kind of a bizarre flow and delivery. The way he was rapping about his father who has cancer was dope as hell. He might’ve had my favorite verse on the song honestly. That was really cool. I like this track. I actually think it’s one of the better songs on the album so far. It’s not amazing or anything, but it’s better than a lot of the other songs on this project. This shit is dope.

14. PALOMA

I actually like this beat. It’s pretty dope. Honestly, this is probably the best beat on the album so far. Oh wait… Wait, no! NOOO! Fuck. That was just the intro. The beat fades out after about thirty seconds, and then a different beat comes on. That’s disappointing. The second beat isn’t bad though. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s fine. Nolan sounded pretty good on that first verse. The simplistic hook does nothing for me. It’s fine though. Pretty much everything I said about the beat applies to the hook as well. The second verse was fine. Hmmm… Honestly, the only thing that really stands out about this song to me is Nolan’s flow. He sounded really good on both of the verses. They don’t do much for me lyrically though. I enjoyed this song to some extent, but it’s definitely far from my favorite. It’s cool though. I like it.

15. SOIL

This is technically the last song on the actual album. Everything after this is labeled as a bonus track. I’m honestly not really feelin’ the beat on this track. It’s weird. I feel like if you liked Some Rap Songs you might like this beat. I don’t like it personally. It’s a bit irritating to me. The verse from Nolan was cool. It’s not very different from any of the other verses on this project though. There was one point at the end of the verse where his flow and breath control were really impressive.

Feeling like an OG that came up in ’88
With 80K in the safe & a silencer on safety
In case a stupid nigga should try to confiscate the savings

He sounded really good delivering those lines. The little hook he spit at the end did absolutely nothing for me. The outro of this song is way too long too. He lets the instrumental play out for over a minute. I’m not feelin’ this song at all man. His flow was kinda cool at the end of his verse, but aside from that, I didn’t care for this shit at all. It’s bland as hell. This was a really underwhelming way to end the main portion of the album. I think the beat sucks. There’s only one verse, and it’s only slightly above average in my opinion. This is mediocre to me.

16. THRAXXX

Wow. I actually really like this beat. It seemed just as average as the other beats on the album at first, but once it got a chance to evolve when the verse started it got really cool. It’s kinda melodic. For some reason it reminds me of Animal Crossing. I don’t really know why. I like it a lot though. I might even dare to say I love it. The verse from Nolan was cool too. The content isn’t really my cup of tea, but it’s nice to get something different for once, instead of the generic bars about being a better rapper than anyone else and paper chasing. This track in particular is just him describing a date with a girl that ends with him getting head. Well, I think it’s a date. They’re pretty much just hanging out, smoking weed, listening to music, and watching movies. Y’all consider that a date? Anyway, this bonus track is ironically more enjoyable than any of the songs in the main portion of the album for me personally. This one is really dope to me.

17. BLOOM produced by DAYGGS

Damn. This is easily the best beat on the album so far. It’s really chill & melodic. What the hell, man? Why are these bonus tracks so much better than the actual album? It should be the other way around… Well, I mean… Ideally, every single track is really good. Those are unrealistic expectations though, especially for an album this long. I just don’t get why the main album wasn’t this good though. I really like the laidback aesthetic of this song. The beat is really chill, and Nolan has kind of a spaced out flow on the hook. Same goes for the actual verse, but to a lesser extent. The lyrics aren’t anything special. It works well over this beat though. It’s got a similar atmosphere to All Stops by Lance SkiiiWalker, which was one of my favorite songs of 2016. This shit is really dope. I like it a lot. The switch up at the very end was cool too. His flow was really nice on that outro. I should also mention those background vocals from Phil Swish, which were a nice touch. This is probably my favorite song on the whole album so far. It’s between this one and the previous track. This is dope.

18. SP1200 FREESTYLE produced by Grap Luva

The beat on this track is pretty good. It’s not as nice as the previous couple tracks, but I like it. The first verse from Nolan was cool. I like the way he’s rapping on this track. He’s got a nice flow. There’s not really a hook on this track. There are just some scratches between the two verses, which were a nice touch. That second verse was dope as hell honestly. Once again, there aren’t really any quotable lines that stood out to me. His flow was just really nice. He sounded great. This is another really good bonus track that surpasses the majority of the main songs on this album. This shit is dope.

19. HERMIT produced by Ovrkast

This beat is pretty good. Again, it’s not as impressive as the first couple of beats from the bonus tracks, but I still like it. Hmm… Damn… I just listened to the whole song. It’s not that good. It’s definitely not the worst song on the album, but it’s just not very good. The production’s kinda cool, but the hook does absolutely nothing for me, and neither of the verses are good either. Nolan’s got a really lazy flow, and each verse is only like 6 to 8 bars long. You can tell he didn’t really put that much effort into this track. The song is listenable for sure. It’s just devoid of flavor and replay value. I won’t be returning to this ever again. It’s decent though.

20. POE produced by Illingsworth

This is probably my most anticipated track on the whole album, and that’s because of the Illingsworth placement. I love his beats, and Nolan seems like he would fit over that style really well, especially with the toned down delivery he’s employed on this album. Hopefully I’m not disappointed. Ahhh shit. Yup. Okay, HERE we go. This is the best beat on the album. Yesss… I love this production, and the sung hook from Nolan sounds really good too. As you may have gathered from the title of the track, Nolan’s rapping about growing up poor. Once again, it’s nice to hear him rap about something interesting for once on this album. The lyrics are pretty simplistic, but they’re emotionally potent.

Barely hung with my Dad, I ain’t stressing
What’s prior is in the past; what’s the present?
And I ain’t here to ruffle feathers, but I’m questioning
Man to man, why’d you run & leave us hanging there?

This is EASILY the best song on the album. The production is great, the lyrics are sad, and the hook is good too. He made great use of that audio clip from Atlanta at the end of the song too. This is the only song on the album so far that I can say I actually love. This shit is dope af.

21. FELT produced by Vibesounds

This beat is pretty dope too. The first verse from Nolan was nice. He’s actually got something substantial to say.

Momma raised me on her last
So when I get the bag, she’s entitled to some stacks
The only way to pay her back
You can’t get famous then forget about your fam

Again, it’s not the most complicated, technical lyricism. It’s at least interesting to listen to though. The hook is super simplistic, but it works. I like the way the beat switched up for the second verse. The second verse was fine. Overall, I like the song. It’s definitely not one of my favorites from the album, but I enjoyed it to some extent. The production was kinda cool, and the verses were solid. It’s good.


Holy fuck that album was long. Well, it was really just an hour in length. It felt a lot longer than it actually is. I think I can say I enjoyed the album overall. I didn’t actually delete that many songs from it. There are really only a handful of songs I won’t be returning to. However, this album honestly felt like work to listen to. This shit is as basic as it gets musically. The production is absolutely vapid throughout the main portion of the project, and doesn’t start to get slightly more intriguing until the bonus tracks begin. The songs are all super rudimentary in terms of structure. The entire project just feels like a collection of decent verses over mundane lo-fi production. I really don’t know why the production was so tedious because Nolan the Ninja has done a lot of work with 5ynoT in the past, and I never had an issue with the beats until now. The production isn’t the only aspect of this album that let me down though. As I said before, Nolan’s insanely hostile delivery is completely absent from this project. At no point is he rhyming as belligerently as he was on he[art]. or The Ill Sh-t. That may be a welcome change for some listeners, but I’m personally disappointed because that’s the main thing that made Nolan stand out to me. Lyrically, this album is just really uneventful. There aren’t any creative song concepts. There are barely any quotable lines. The one thing that kept the verses enjoyable for me was Nolan’s flow. He still has a good cadence thankfully. I know I’ve been really critical of the album, but I do want to stress that I did enjoy the album overall. I think it’s above average. This should’ve been Nolan’s best project yet though. This should’ve been The Ill Sh-t & he[art]. on level 100. I feel like this is a downgrade in almost every way though. I’m disappointed. However, this is still a solid project. I think it’s good. It’s a really bad entry point for first time listeners though. It likely won’t leave much of an impression on those who are unfamiliar with him.

Favorite Song: POE
Least Favorite Song: KRUSH

71

70-79
Grade: B-

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