This album was released on July 24th this year. NDNI is a duo comprised of two artists named ANDY MUSA & PHNTMSKY. I first discovered their music when they followed me on instagram last year, and for whatever reason I was curious enough to check out their most recent single at the time. Just FYI, to any up & coming rappers, please note that it’s usually not that easy. Don’t expect me to check your shit out just from you following. Even if you email or DM me, I’m not guaranteed to check your shit out. Anyway, long story short, I was actually shocked by how much I liked their music, so I followed them back and made sure to keep an eye on them. I’ve written about them at least once before, and featured them on one of my Apple Music playlists from last year. I can’t remember exactly when they announced this project, but it’s been in the works for a while, and I was pretty excited to check it out, especially since I’d loved all the singles I’d heard from them. I’m not exactly sure who produces their music or if they do it themselves, but if I find out I’ll be sure to update this review.
The album kicks off with one of my favorite tracks, Fallout. I really love ANDY MUSA’s melodic performance here. I think he’s amazing at coming up with catchy melodies, and I really love his voice too. The lyrics are also pretty damn cool.
I’m exhausted, I’m nauseous
It’s toxic, you’re love
There’s a noose on my soul
‘Cause Allah gave me gold
Give me and diamonds, I’m worth it
I swear I deserve it
Your light is behind me
The shadows, they’re blinding
One thing I’ve always appreciated about NDNI is that their style is super unique. The kind of melodic Hip Hop they do isn’t something you can find from anyone else to be honest. It’s not melodic in the same way that Lil Uzi Vert or even Drake are. They don’t sound like a Trap or R&B act. I don’t know how to describe it, but it almost sounds like they incorporate kind of an Alternative Rock influence into their music, but not in the same way as XXXTENTACION. You just have to listen to it to see for yourself ’cause I don’t know how to explain it. Anyway, I love the hook on this track. It got stuck in my head immediately after my first listen. PHNTMSKY has always been a super weird artist to me. His vocal approach is just really bizarre. In the past I’ve said that he sounds like a vampire, but nowadays I associate him with zombies or mummies more than anything. His croaky vocals are probably an acquired taste, but I appreciate how fucking weird they sound. Overall, I think the song is amazing personally. It’s definitely a contender for my favorite track. I probably won’t actually decide on a favorite song until the day this review is posted. Anyway, the song is followed by Nothing Familiar, which is another highlight for me.
This track was released about halfway through 2019, so it’s been in my library for a pretty long time. I’m not really sure who the female vocalist on the hook is, but I think she did a great job. PHNTMSKY’s flow on the first verse of this song is really awesome too. I think his verse is actually probably my favorite aspect of the whole song. His ad-libs in the background sound pretty A$AP Ferg-ish to me, but just less goofy. Certain lines are kinda difficult to understand, especially when he switches to the aforementioned, zombie-like delivery, but it’s not really a bad thing to me. ANDY MUSA’s flow didn’t impress me quite as much, but I thought the lyrics were pretty cool.
I move through waves whenever they be crashin’, I’m a lightfoot assassin
I’m hell-bound, know whatever really happens, I’m remorseful for my sin
If I show you my thoughts you’d be lost in my box then, that’d be 2 of us lost and,
If I show you my true self it might fuck you up then, that’d be 3 of us boxin’
I’m not sure if the reference to “waves” is supposed to tie in to the following track or if that’s just a coincidence. I think the song is dope as hell overall. The third song is called Waves, and it’s one of my favorite tracks that they’ve ever done.
This is the song that was featured on the playlist that I mentioned in the preamble to this review. There’s really not a single aspect of this track that I don’t love. The dark subject matter is super relatable for me, and I really appreciated how personal it was.
Wherever I land, come and find me
It’s basically about free-falling through a void of depression and wanting your loved ones to stick with you through it. I’ve been on both sides of this kind of issue, and I think having a song that expresses that feeling is really… Well, I’m just glad it exists. I think they knocked this track outta the park. This is me when the hook finally comes in and I hear Andy sing “IT COMES IN WAVES!”
It’s an amazing song, and if I’m being completely honest, it’s probably gonna end up being my favorite track. I think it’s dope af. The fourth song is the closest thing to a title track, and it’s called Lifted Me Up. I wouldn’t exactly call it a favorite of mine, but I do love it a lot more than I initially did on my first listen. The way the song builds up as they continuously layer their vocals is really awesome. The first actual verse from PHNTMSKY is pretty dope. At first I wasn’t sure if it was actually him because his vocals don’t sound as weird as usual, but I knew it was him by the time the hook came back on. ANDY MUSA’s verse was really strange to me just because his fast paced flow was so off kilter. It wasn’t a bad flow or anything. I just feel like I’ve never heard anyone flow like that. It was very interesting. Overall, I think the song is really dope. It’s not really a highlight for me, but I definitely fuck with it. It’s followed by Space Girl, which is a relatively traditional sounding track. The production is more Boom Bap-ish. The track actually reminded me a lot of Nu Irth for whatever reason. ANDY MUSA’s voice just sounded a lot like that of Jaden Castro to me here, especially on the hook. I really loved PHNTMSKY’s verse on this song. That’s probably my favorite part of the whole track. I just loved the way he manipulated his vocals and had so many different deliveries. Now that I think about it, this song is actually kinda Flatbush Zombies-ish too. The main difference is that it doesn’t feel uninspired at all. It reminds me of when FBZ actually sounded interesting and made compelling music. No offense to them though. All due respect of course. Anyway, whenever I listen to this song, I just imagine being in someone who wears tie-die shirts’ dorm room surrounded by lava-lamps while smoking weed. It’s the second-druggiest song on the album. I like it a lot. The second verse from ANDY MUSA was dope. I thought the way he said that him and the “space girl” that the song is named after “came in peace” was pretty clever. The song is dope. It’s followed by a highlight called Believe It or Not. Even though it’s one of my favorite tracks, I actually am not crazy about the hook. I don’t think it’s really bad or anything, but it doesn’t stand out to me much. It just kinda gets the job done. Everything else about the song is really great though. I love the production, and ANDY MUSA’s flow on the first verse is pretty impressive. PHNTMSKY’s stood out more to me from a lyrical standpoint. The line about conquering his dreams like the sandman was cool. I just think the way the production builds up during the verses feels very theatrical and kind of mesmerizing. It’s dope as hell. The penultimate track, Mary’s Wish, is yet another highlight for me. I didn’t really love it that much on my first listen for whatever reason, but it really clicked when I came back to it. The reserved, sung hook from ANDY MUSA is phenomenal. I think it’s one of the best hooks on the album to be honest.
Mary wanna fill that room
Mary wanna kill that gloom
Mary wanna sing that tune
Mary wanna sing that tune
Mary wanna burn the night away
Mary wanna change my mood
Mary wanna sing that tune
Mary wanna sing that tune
As you can probably tell by now, it’s a double entendre about marijuana. Musical odes to weed usually don’t interest me that much, and obviously personifying the plant as a woman named Mary isn’t the most original concept for a song, but it’s just so well done here that I can’t help but love it. The hook is so fucking catchy too. Andy’s vocal performance here is so soft that he almost sounds a tad bit Weeknd-ish, especially at the beginning of the first verse. I think the concept ties into the “lifted” theme very well. I’m probably reaching, but it did seem like they put some effort to thread these songs together at least a little bit. I found it interesting that the song called “Lifted Me Up” came right after Waves, which was about falling into a deep depression. After being lifted up, the song about being with the Space Girl comes in. Believe It or Not doesn’t really fit my theory yet, but this song about getting high—or lifted—certainly does. Anyway, PHNTMSKY’s performance on the second verse was even weirder to me than usual. I mean, he does what he normally does, but then there’s another layer of background vocals where he almost gets kinda Young Thug-ish. I might’ve already mentioned this, but the way he’s constantly manipulating and playing with his vocal deliveries is really cool. The song is dope as hell to me. I love it. The closing song is called I Bleed Blue; I wrote about this track earlier this year when it was released as a single.
I liked the song a lot at the time, but I think I fuck with it even more now than I originally did. PHNTMSKY had my favorite verse, but the featured artist, JMtheProdigy, actually had a lot of really dope lines that went over my head when I first heard it.
I got the feds watching us, we makin’ mad noise
They just wanna see me in a cell like an android
That was probably my favorite couplet in his whole verse. He killed this shit. All of the verses are dope, but I just wanted to make sure I gave him more credit than I initially did because he really added a lot to the song. The melodic hook is really nice too. This is probably the most traditional sounding song on the album, so it might be more accessible to the old heads. I think it’s really dope.