Nickelus F and Shawn Kemp’s Ode To Hip-Hop With ‘Trick Dice’

Post-2010 era began what was Travis Miller’s voyage of accruing notoriety. Within this decade, Rap music gave another light to its previous offspring, the subgenres of Cloud Rap, Jazz Hop, the scene of Houston and New York, Miami, and now Atlanta.

During this period, Travis Miller took on collaborative efforts that catapulted his name amongst the herd of hungry a Memphis Rap fans. Through his efforts, Miller helped to reanimate the former name of Nickelus F, once an occasional rapping opponent of the early 106 & Park television show that used to air on BET.


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The end result is the crafts of different colors, textures, hues, flavor, and other variants that combine the talents of the two musicians. This acts more like a collection of cool “riff-over beats” that were constructed in the meantime of inspiration.

The compilation lasts around forty-five minutes, with Nickelus F working as the focused wordsmith and Miller as the beat constructor. The tracks serve as odes to a time of the past that many Hip-Hop heads relish today. The days of Rakim and Tha Pharcyde poetically purging out their thought-up stories and slick talk over J Dilla beats.

These are old-school beats with an old-school lyricist spewing out retorts after insults, clever wit after clever wit. Heavy meaning and narrative significance aren’t as apparent here. Just like in Mista Thug Isolation, now less sonorously horrifying or nerve-enticing.


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Tracks like Oedipus Rex and EMU (Neck Mix) are a few of my personal favorites. Oedipus Rex suits in every stretch of the Hip-Hop realm. It is essentially Nickelus F stretching his taunts with the most wit, but over Miller perfecting the old school feel of Blaise Hip-Hop.

Miller even comes in with his raspy and eloquent vernacular. I am especially a fan of the way Miller ends his verse with:

“I like that pop when the record gets dusty. Even more, I like that pop when it hits you abruptly.”

The track EMU (Neck Mix) is separated into two portions. The first half starts off with a minute-long, eerie synthesizer that suddenly abrupts into echoes and chimes all wrapped up in standard Hip-Hop production. Nickelus F gives off the same boisterous energy as he’s done throughout the project, as well as 106 & Park. His angry semblance matched with his shit-talking cleverness does the odd production well.

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The second half of the track lasts for only around a minute but is my favorite minute of the project. “Many criticize, but we all got to eat,” is the repeating chorus that gives off vigorous life in the track. Nickelus F then goes in again with his aggressive nonchalance.

This project does not hold many themes or topics that serve as pretentious discussion points in school or with friends. It goes back to the days of freestyling slick talk that happens to go well over hard bops and bounces.

Although this project is a couple of years old, it’s nice to go back to artists’ catalog and see what they were up to in their heyday. It’s well worth the mention for those who claim to miss the “days when Hip-Hop was Hip-Hop.”




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