Over the past few years Nappy Nina has become one of the most exciting voices in hip-hop. The Oakland-born, Brooklyn-based rapper is a gifted poet whose vocal range and lyricism has the power to put you in a trance. Her hushed delivery is mesmerizing, drawing you in further and further until your mind has turned off everything else and you’re only listening to her words. While she’s been compared to other female rappers – notably Noname and Digable Planets’ Ladybug Mecca, among others – Nina is always telling her own unique story. She’s a wordsmith of striking depth who has something to say—and isn’t afraid to say it straight up.
Mourning Due takes everything that’s made Nappy Nina one of the most consistent lyricists of the past few years and distills it into a very artful package. With a wide range and vivid storytelling, she ruminates on life experiences over simmering beats that keep the album engaging throughout. It’s an ambitious work of personal and collective reckoning, reflecting on joys and pains alike in a conversational tone.
Throughout Mourning Due‘s 14 tracks, Nina moves from track to track quickly, rarely lingering too long before switching gears again — a versatile approach that makes for a compelling listening experience. Nina’s words have a way of sticking with you long after you’ve stopped listening to them, and she traverses a wide range of topics —ranging from grief to her experiences as a queer Black woman in Brooklyn — over beats that can be breathtakingly delicate one track and hard-hitting the next. She has an ear for beats and can jump between them effortlessly.
Experimenting with unorthodox production styles (courtesy of long-time collaborators Nelson Bandela, dane.zone, and JWords), Mourning Due pushes the boundaries of what hip-hop can be. The entire project has a way of playing with space and time, forcing listeners to pay attention in order to keep up. It packs a layered punch of poignant lyrical gems while also showing off Nina’s ability to challenge herself as an artist by sourcing material from a myriad of influences.
The collective outcome creates a lasting impression through engaging wordplay and top notch beats, while strong guest spots from lojii, maassai, Cavalier, and Moor Mother (among others) help turn Mourning Due into an early album of the year contender.
Listen/buy: Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify