This extended play was released on December 4th this year. I first heard of Defcee last year when he released his album Lacuna. It came out just at the very end of 2019, so I unfortunately didn’t get around to listening to it until much later, but I highly recommend it. It’s a very beautifully written album. In fact, just based off that album alone I’d say Defcee is one of the best writers in Hip Hop at the moment. Seriously, the dude’s writing style is absolutely mesmerizing. He also had a great feature on Doc Wattson‘s album with Ronesh earlier this year, so check that shit out too. I personally wasn’t familiar with Nick Arcade before listening to this project unless I’m forgetting something, so I don’t have much information about him. I googled “Nick Arcade” and found myself reading a Wikipedia article about a children’s game show entitled Nickelodeon Arcade. I was eventually able to locate Nick’s Bandcamp page though, which then led me to his Soundcloud and other social media pages. Releases seem to go as far back as six years ago. He’s one half of a duo called Broken Wristwatch with another artist named Tomcantsleep, so that’s interesting. I’ll have to look into their work. Anyway, he handled all the production on this EP, while Defcee took care of the Rap performances.
The opening song is called Adderall Adam. It begins with what sounds like a clip from a movie in which some guy tries to purchase adderall from a child. I love the beat that eventually comes in. I might just be pulling these comparisons out of my ass, but the first artists that came to mind were !llmind and J Dilla. Also, the word “junkyard” popped into my head, but not in a bad way. The song is pretty much just one verse, so it’s a little short due to the skeletal song structure. The verse itself is amazing though.
Quasimodo a rhyme, my name chimes at a higher pitch
Unseen, pricey gifts treated like a pint of piss
In designer print the spitting image of pirate pimps
The pyre lit—they just need to find a witch or a scientist
Livin' at the bottom of a bottle when the lightning hit
Defiant as dying wishes or infants smilin' when diapers drip
You’re welcome; Adderall Adam’s outta retirement
Polishin' a handful of jewelry they couldn’t mine or mint
This shit is fire. Again, the song has a super clear-cut structure, but the production and verse are so good that I don’t even care.
I’m playin Contra with Hov and Galaga with Beyoncé
Slappin' white people who pronouncin' it, “Salon-jay”
Why you tryna cop like the plug in your dusty town?
Know you got a job cleanin' up, made your mother proud
Front like you don’t mop in the scrubs, whippin' suds around
Until you got rocked in the club like a button-down
That closing line where he said he felt like he was talking to a wall until the bricks wept was crazy too. The song is dope as hell to me. It’s followed by Krakoa, which is also fire. The beat here is even better than that of the preceding track. It feels a lot smoother and more melodic. Def kicks things off with a brilliant line straight out the gate.
They make as much sense as streamin' revenue
The entire first verse is just amazing. I don’t even know what to say about it other than that. Literally every single line is a quotable bar.
It’s okay if none of my metrics move
I’ma carve a wave in this blade’s shade until the stencils swell and swoon
Auctioneering these works of art for the hard of hearing
Head in the clouds, could make a couple of Hondas heelies
Used to get twisted quick as parallel parking steering
Droppin' gems on 'em, and all they done is lost an earring
The line about using cars as heelies was super creative. There’s not really a hook on this track. There’s just a break between the two verses with what sounds like more clips from a movie or TV show. The second verse is just as amazing as the first one. I love the competitive attitude he has here.
I was outside battling while they wrastled with agoraphobia
How they ask for the problem and struggle solvin' the formula?
Bars hardbody, yours get autopsies and coroners
Mourners markin' your corner, hangin' poems, bottles, and portraits up
Hit 'em with death stares, and they responded with rigor mortis
Hate as common as a second mortgage in River Forest
Call me ill-advised, took a million tries to heal the losses
Only thing realer than pain is what the drillers drawin'
His voice also sounded almost exactly like that of Royce da 5’9″ to me here. It’s really uncanny to be honest. It’s not really an issue. It’s just something I noticed. Anyway, I think the song is dope as hell. The next song is called Non Sequitur. Once again, the production here is top notch. It’s super jazzy and kinda chill, but not in a way that makes me wanna sleep. It’s just a very pretty instrumental. The lyrical content here is far more serious in tone than that of the preceding material.
Rap retirement plan? Like I got a choice
These rhymes would haunt me everyday like my father’s voice
Iris like a tree ring when I’ve wept psalms
Everything welcome in my cypher except loss
Anything that was handed to me had strings attached
By people who’d reduce me to ash with a finger snap
Felt like nobody wanted to bring me back
Stuck too far under thin skin to clip the sting from that
His verse on this track is fantastic. He only spits 16 bars before Wally Wess comes in to finish the track off with the second verse. I’d never heard of this guy, but he did a pretty nice job here.
With every fleeting simple show of interest, yeah, I gas 'em
I gas her, make her wanna give that ass up
High quotes from the pussy pastor
I be tryna save face, wishing not to play the savior
I definitely don’t think his verse was as amazing as Defcee’s performance, but I still enjoyed his rapping here. Even though the song has yet another very simplistic structure, everything is so well done that I can’t help but love it. This shit is dope as hell. The penultimate track is a major highlight entitled Eggshells. This one is fucking amazing. The tense, piano-driven production here is absolutely gorgeous, and the emotional content had me hooked the entire time.
He’s the runt of the litter the hunters should miss
Stunning and sick, drunk from a sip, grungy and lit
Magician with a jury of gods judging his tricks
And a bucket of colorful raps he dumps 'til it drips
Spendin' two percent of his time funny and quick
Until the laughter dies as fast as his crumbling wit
Mumbles in loops, touchy and pissed
Pretendin' he isn’t really as fragile as a crumb in a fist
This is the first track on the album that actually has a hook. It’s not really amazing or anything, but it makes the song feel more fleshed out than any of the others. The second verse is beautifully written, and the way the beat switched up about halfway through was fucking awesome.
Fallen family tree, and it was stripped to the stump
I’m a chip from the trunk, self-portrait drawn with a stick in the mud
Delicate bonds ripped with a tug
Went from kisses and hugs to winces and shrugs
Nostalgia stings, but I blitzed it when buzzed
And questioned every road to riches the Michelins touched
Slipped in the cut, stunk of luck, fillings and rust
“I can’t stop loving you,” said the wheel to the rut
Building boundaries, like a million a month
Needed a minute to chill, so I pivoted and dipped from the dust
What I’m feeling is deeper than bitterness, but…
It’s still inked in its stencil and licked with its brush
The song is fucking amazing to me. I think it’s dope af. The final song on the project is entitled Warp, and it has a really pretty & jazzy instrumental. Once again, the song has a super simplistic structure. It’s literally just one verse, and that’s it. However, the verse is so fucking amazing that I don’t even mind the simplicity of the song. It’s just as emotionally gripping as the preceding track.
Stumbling after these passages I’ve unchained
Turnin' over every stone like a drug raid
Shame struck me sharper than some of my partners’ gun games
As I was savin places for my day ones, and none stayed
Verses were tourniquets on atrophied muscle
Diggin' my past outta capsule 'til I damaged the shovel
Rap was a struggle, then I started puttin' tracks in a duffle
Like wifey walkin' outta Sally with a bag full of bundles
The song is just under 90 seconds in length, so there’s nothing to dig into aside from the verse itself, but it’s so beautifully written that it doesn’t feel unfinished. I think the song is dope as hell.
This project is honestly pretty goddamn amazing to me. There’s not a single track here that I wasn’t blown away by in some way or another. Every single beat from Nick Arcade provides the perfect backdrop for Defcee’s beautifully composed verses, who solidified himself as one of the genre’s best writers with this EP. It’s only about 10 minutes long, but it’s truly all killer and no filler. Overall I prefer this project, but his album Lacuna definitely gives listeners more to digest. I think this would be an amazing entry point for new listeners though. If you’re like me and you value top notch lyricism first and foremost, you should love this EP. I guess a minor gripe would be the scant song structures, but everything here is so well done that I barely even cared. I think this shit is dope af. If you sleep on this, especially after reading this review, you’re fuckin’ up.