I’m going to be up front here, I love clever lyrics and songs about politics, and Nickle Nelly’s entire album “Wrong to Remain Silent” is jam-packed with both. From the word go Nickle Nelly lets you know you’re in for a lyrically dense, opinion filled judgment of everything wrong with the world today. The opening track “The Verdict” samples news clips ranging in topic from race, voter suppression, school shootings, Presidential tweets, and “fake news,” and by the end Nickle thanks you for listening to the song and upcoming album with comments on consumerism, religion, and who Nickle Nelly is in between. After a few tracks dedicated to the Twin Cities the album swerves back to the political with two standout tracks “Thin Blue Line” and “Checks & Balances,” covering police overreach and corrupt politicians respectively. Two tracks later is my favorite song on the album “Slow Down.” A rap about driving slower and seeing things from the perspective of others, “Slow Down” is the only song to take more of the story telling format with a gut check of a twist and I hope to see more of this in the future. For me the real earworm on the album is “Me & You,” a more up beat tune about love and Minnesota road trips, with a catchy hook that will be stuck in your head hours later. Do yourself a favor and go check out “Wrong to Remain Silent” now.
(Melodic Noise) How's your day going?
(Nickle Nelly) Can't complain. I mean I can, and will at some point, but for now I won't.
(MN) Who is Nickle Nelly?
(NN) One-man band (Nick Nelson), although I collaborate very frequently with my dude Mike Wood of Thawed Out Productions, and he produced my entire new album.
(NN) Hippity hop
(MN) What’s your origin story?
(NN) I've been rappin in some capacity since high school, so for the better part of two decades. Used to just screw around with friends but have always had a passion for the wordplay, the music, the craft. I've stuck with it and only recently got serious enough to buckle down, zero in and put together a solo project.
(MN) Do you have a label?
(NN) Unsigned and perfectly happy with that.
(MN) What is the story behind the album title?
(NN) It's called "Wrong to Remain Silent." Basically, I'm very opinionated about what's going on in the world right now, but with my day job(s) it doesn't really behoove me to use my professional platforms for speaking up about that politics and touchy societal issues. Rap has become an outlet to speak my mind in a creative and impactful way, and that's what I wanted to capture with the album, while encouraging people to do the same: find a way to make your voice heard. This isn't a time to stay on the sidelines and not speak your mind. I feel like apathy is a big part of what's led us here.
(MN) Lyrically what stands out on this album?
(NN) I don't feel like I wasted a word on this thing. Every line has a purpose. There's plenty of stuff to unpack for any analytical hip-hop head – complex rhyme schemes, unusual metaphors, recurring themes/references – but hopefully what really hits people is just the clarity of the message.
(MN) Are you a local to the Twin Cities or a transplant?
(NN) Local. There's no place like home base.
(MN) Who are some of your influences and Minnesota influences?
(NN) At a higher level, I'm definitely influenced by all of my favorite rappers – Kendrick, J Cole, Eminem, Jay Z, Black Thought, etc. Locally I think I've been influenced by everyone around me, it's an awesome scene. Atmosphere really paved the way though.
(MN) Who are some of your current favorite Twin Cities artists?
(NN) I'm liking Dwynell Roland, Lioness and Nur-D.
(MN) What is your favorite venue to play & see shows in Twin Cities?
(NN) I love Honey in Northeast. It's such a great spot. I've probably played two dozen shows there over the years. But nothing beats First Ave, whether on the stage for in the crowd.
(MN) What can fans expect when they come your show?
(MN) Do you have a favorite memory of playing a show?
(NN) Man. I'd probably have to say the time me, Mike and my dude Ambrose went up north to Duluth to play in a glass shop. It wasn't a great performance or a great venue but the memories will last forever. Our planned host for the night ditched us and we were too cheap for a hotel room so we slept in our car in a parking garage. I realize this does not rank highly among "crazy touring stories" but it was just my own little personal slice of the experience.
(MN) What was the inspiration behind the album?
(NN) I sort of alluded it to it earlier. I didn't really have the theme in mind as I was making music and compiling songs, but after a while it became very clear, very natural. As I watched things in our country devolve over the course of 2018, I was hard on myself for probably not contributing enough to the discourse, largely because I didn't wanna deal with shitty Facebook comments or be scolded by idiots to "stick to sports" (I write about baseball as one of other hustles). With rap I can put it all out there, expressing my ideas in an enjoyable way and not giving a damn what people think.
(MN) What do you hope people take away from the album?
(NN) That it's not only okay to make your voice heard, but essential.
(MN) Who are your dream tourmates?
(NN) Kendrick and Cole. Sitting around listening to those two philosophize would put me in a permanent state of galaxy-brain.
(MN) Other hobbies?
(NN) I love baseball. I write about it all the time for a site called Twins Daily. I also coach kids in the city during the summer. And I'm a solid B-grade softball shortstop.
(MN) What do you like about living in the Twin Cities?
(NN) The people. The lakes. The history. The community. The food/drinks/beers. The politics. The demeanors. Pretty much everything except the winters.
(MN) Favorite places to grab food or drink in the Twin Cities?
(NN) Gotta plug Mortimer's and Nightingale in Uptown. (Because they're awesome, not because they're owned by my brother and sister-in-law.)
(MN) Day jobs?
(NN) I'm a content marketer by day, putting the power of persuasive wordplay to use more formally. I work at a really excellent agency full of extremely smart people so I love it.
(MN) What are the your plans for the future?
(NN) Undecided. I'm open to working on another project but only if there's an obvious reason for it in my mind. I'll definitely keep working on music, and am looking to play some shows this year. Hoping to collaborate with some new folks.
Review and Interview by: Andrew Perrizo
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