Album Review | OKnice – Have You Tried Being Happy?

This album was released on March 1st this year. OKnice is a rapper from Minnesota with whom I had very little experience prior to hearing this record. The only track that I’d heard from him was a single called Scumbag featuring Defcee. That song is fire though, so I was pretty excited to check out a full project from him. I also was intrigued by the title and theme of this album. “Have you tried being happy?” is a question that dumbasses who don’t understand mental illness ask a lot, so I had a feeling that there would be a strong theme of mental health and anguish on this project, and I turned out to be right.

The album begins with a track entitled I’m Still. I really love the kind of jazzy production from Deergod, and OKnice’s flow here is pretty nice. I find the lyricism pretty interesting too. He had a really nice four-syllable rhyme scheme

I told myself I'd make a happy record
Told my friends I'd get my act together
Y'all can see I failed at that, whatever
Trust it wasn't from a lack of effort
I'm just scared that I'll be running from my past forever

The main appeal of this song is definitely the lyricism for me, but the production and flow are really nice too. The song’s pretty short, so there’s not really time for a hook. The song is really dope to me overall. It’s followed by a highlight entitled Split / Screen, which has some fantastic production from Akamoto & Zepeda.

I think the main reason I like this song so much is just because of the stellar beat. I really love the instrumental. I think this track has one of OKnice’s best performances on the album too. The first verse is really dope.

A penny for your thoughts and even less for your labor
Tell me how's a simple sinner get the complex of a savior
I been crate diggin' tryna fill my chest crater
Now the paper changin' hands, Dunder Mifflin turnin' Sabre
If I say I'm grinding know that I just mean my teeth
'Cause these nights and my anxiety ain't tryna let me sleep
My door's locked, my shoes off, that's when I feel at peace
And now I'd rather waste my days stayin' wrapped up in my sheets

However, I actually think the second verse is even better. His flow is nice as hell here.

Cinderella dipped herself in citronella
Ditched her fella for somethin' a little better
Don't ask about the weather
Whether or not I been standin' in this downpour
Tryin' to get out more
Jabber jaw 'til my voice is raw and my mouth sore

The hook isn’t really anything special to me, but it serves its purpose well enough as a break between the two verses. Again, this is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It might actually be my number one favorite track. I don’t know. I haven’t decided what my favorite song is yet. This shit is fire though. The song is dope as hell. It’s followed by another highlight entitled Snake Oil. This one opens up with a fantastic verse from Defcee. His flow and rhymes were nice as hell. I really love the kind of dark-sounding, horn-driven production from Minnesota Cold on this track too. OKnice also had a really nice flow.

Weight all on my heart, it's lookin' hella brolic
See the way my eyes tired, I been feelin' melancholic
Tryna feel alive and I wanna live to tell about it
Maybe that's a bluff, got enough, and I'm better quiet
Better men try, but I seen 'em fail, seen 'em frail
Always self destruct, I'm a ouroboros, eat my tail

The song is dope as hell. The following track is entitled Type: Blue, and it features Love, Ulysses, who I’ve been becoming more familiar with lately.

I really love the melodic production from Metasota. The first verse from OKnice is great, and I think this track has one of the best hooks on the album. The second verse from Love, Ulysses is really nice. He had a dope flow. I think the final verse from OKnice is the best part of the song though.

Toxins in coffins that we been boxed in
Digital hearts can judge our thoughts that we get lost in
Never trust the fate and every tape is saying caution
Didn't know until it was too late what it was costin'

I think I misquoted that third line, but it is what it is. The song is really dope overall. It’s followed by Nowhere, USA, which features one of my favorite beats on the album from Zepeda. The whole track is pretty much just one long verse, but it’s very good. My favorite lines come towards the very end of the track.

You still got a God then say a prayer and send it my way
Ask Him why he lost so many crosses on the highway
I don't mean to question, I just never learned a lesson
And I wonder what he'd say if that was him up in confession

There’s not really anything I don’t like about this song. It’s just really good rapping over some great production. The song is dope. Track 6 is a highlight entitled Voicemail. This one features an artist with whom I was previously unfamiliar named Gabe Reasoner, as well as another phenomenal beat from Zepeda. I think Gabe’s vocals on the hook sound really goddamn good. That might actually be the best hook on the album now that I think about it. I also think this is one of the most complete-sounding tracks on the album. It’s got a great instrumental, a really good hook, and some fantastic rapping.

I'd sell every piece of me for a little peace in me
Eagerly, lately been exhausted just bein' me
Always walk around with my face in a hard frown
Any time I step up out the house you'll see dark clouds
Hear "I love you" as a harsh sound
Never let my guard down
Kinda aura make Tony Stark proud

I think I misquoted that last line. Fuck it. I tried my best to transcribe it accurately. Anyway, this is another strong contender for my favorite track on the album. I have no issues with it at all. I think it’s dope as hell. The next song is called Pleasantville, and it’s got a nice, lighthearted, jazzy beat from Hex. It’s probably the most cheerful-sounding instrumental on the whole album. The lyrical content isn’t particularly joyful or anything, but it’s not quite as lugubrious as a lot of the other tracks.

Let's be honest, money's evil, 'least until you can get it
Actin' different when you move into a Benz from a Civic
Keep it civil, keep your thoughts if they're not optimistic
And no one means it if they ask you how you're doin', so zip it
The grass is really greener, it's also probably poison
Boys will be boys and won't be punished for their choices
Even if they're violently complacent and compliant
A good neighbor knows when to keep their mouth quiet

The first verse was cool, but the second verse was the most impressive part of the song to me. The hook is pretty solid too. I think this song is dope. The following track is called Emergency Broadcast. It’s the shortest song on the album. I think the production from Minnesota Cold is pretty awesome, and the performance from OKnice is great.

Antihistamine fiends clean, pristine condition
Buyin' up the air and let y'all breathe emissions
Sell me all your water, sell me all my own thoughts
Never needed jack, now the giant clutch his own stock
It's not a loss if we beatin' ourselves
They only ever wanna listen if it's secrets to tell

This track feels more like an interlude than a full song due to its brevity, but I still enjoyed it overall. I think it’s a pretty good song. The following song is called Brick Meets Window, and it’s got a pretty nice beat from Hex. The whole track is pretty much just one long verse with no hook or bridge or anything like that. The record scratches at the end of the track were a nice touch though. I also think the lyricism is pretty interesting here.

I had this dream where I was melted to the floor
Tryna make a gin and tonic, but the seltzer wouldn't pour
Was empty on the inside, I felt it at my core
But this man was at my door, he tryna sell another war

The following couplet has a really nice six-syllable rhyme scheme, which is pretty impressive.

The cellophane included, there'll be hell to pay, I knew it
But I seldom make improvements as myself decayed in fluids

Again, I think I misquoted that last line. Fuck it though. Anyway, the song isn’t really one of my favorites on the album, but I don’t have any issues with it. I think OKnice rapped really well, and the production is pretty nice. It’s a dope track. It’s followed by The Devil in the Daylight, which has more production from Minnesota Cold. I really love how melodic the instrumental here is. This track’s got a pretty nice hook too. The song’s kinda short, so there’s only really time for one verse, but it’s very good.

So stressed, old texts ain't replied to
So called peers all weird, I ain't like you
Can't do it like I do it, only write truth
Type I spent my whole life tryna fight through
And now I'm playin' chess with myself
I don't even know what the pieces mean
Probably been the best life lesson itself
Definition lacking from the pieces of me
Been repeating all the mantras that could help me deal with crowds
I been eating all the wrong shit when I been in the house
Doc says I could stand to lose a couple pounds
I think he should watch his mouth

I think a remix of this song with another rapper would be awesome. The first rapper that came to mind for whatever reason was Teddy Faley, but I’m sure a lot of other artists would sound right at home over this beat. I think a collaboration between OKnice and Grieves would be fire, and I don’t even really consider myself a fan of Grieves. I just feel like they have similar rapping styles. Anyway, the song is dope. It’s followed by another highlight entitled Family Tradition. This track has a really good feature from SeKwence. I think SeKwence sounds perfect over this beat from Hex. He’s definitely one of my favorite features on the album, if not my number one favorite. The hook from OKnice is pretty straightforward and kind of repetitive, but it works. I honestly can’t say who had the better verse between him and Sek. They both sound really good here. I would have never considered putting these two guys on a track together, but this shit turned out fire. I think the song’s dope as hell. Track 12 is called Bad News, and it’s got a really nice beat from Metasota. This track isn’t really a highlight for me like the songs that surround it, but it’s still dope. I think this track has one of the better hooks on the album, and the content had me hooked.

I need a treehouse climb, a "keep out" sign
Hope you got beliefs 'cause I be 'bout mine
Sticky notes on my mirror say I'll be just fine
I'm really wishin' God could learn to be kind and rewind
I been scared of phone calls since the day my pops left
Said he had a new fam, sorry, son, God bless
Monster in my chest feelin' like the Loch Ness
Misery love company, it's marchin' out in lockstep

Like I said, the song is really dope. There are three more tracks left in the album, and all of them are highlights for me. Track 13 is called A 7 Year Forecast, and it’s got a phenomenal beat from Zepeda. That’s the main reason I like the song so much to be honest. The rapping from OKnice is of course as good as ever, and the hook is pretty nice. I just love the mellow production a lot. OKnice’s flow on the second verse is really nice. I like how he rhymed “sedentary” with “dead and buried.” The song is dope as hell. The penultimate track is called Dust, and it’s got another fantastic instrumental from Minnesota Cold. I love it. I think this track has some of OKnice’s best rapping on the whole album too. He was rhyming his ass off.

I took 20 paces and I shot at a past life
Mad nice, if you speakin' on me get the facts right
Graphite scratchin' out everything from a bad night
Last light to last call and every hour drags by

The horns that come in during the hook sound glorious. As much as I liked the first verse, I think the second verse is even better.

I eat fear and spit anxiety
Jokers out here posin' that we live in a society
Propriety is for the rich, born to ditch
Bailin' from the party on arrival
Makin' rent is not survival
5-0 headed west, had a gun on his hip
One in the clip for any punk that come runnin' his lips

I actually think this might be my favorite track on the album. OKnice’s performance is too good here for this to not be the best track. He killed this shit. The song is dope af. The closing track is entitled Swing & Amiss, and it’s another one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. I think the production from Hex is pretty great, and OKnice’s writing had me hooked.

No home for a heavy heart, nowhere for my head to lay
Bad thoughts stay on a loop, my brain keep on hittin' play
Beauty in the breakdown, breakdowns in every day
We forget what words mean and all the ways they carry weight
Took too long but then I learned to better
And now I'm tryna make amends for imperfect endeavors
All of this regret and guilt hurtin' forever
You gotta work to fix your worth or the nerve will get severed

The hook is pretty good too. I think this was a great way to close the album. Both of the verses are fire, and I love the production. The song is dope as hell.

This album is really goddamn great. I’d actually say it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard this year to be honest. There’s not a single track that I don’t like. OKnice spits some pretty dense rhymes throughout this project, and I really appreciate the personal, emotional content. As someone who struggles with mental illness, I always dig records like this that have themes of coping with turmoil. This was my first time listening to an OKnice album, and I think it went about as well as I could’ve hoped for. I don’t have any consistent gripes with this record. All of the features really came through for OKnice too. There’s not a single mediocre verse on this album. Check this shit out and let me know what you think. Again, I think it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year. It’s dope.

Favorite Song: Dust
Least Favorite Song: Emergency Broadcast


Grade: B+

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