Instrumental hip-hop has it rough. Either critics expect too much from it and dispense punishment based on different expectations, or fans expect too little and heap unwarranted praise on mere wallpaper. Nicolay, producer of 2004's great Foreign Exchange record, has released what was once a promotion-only offering with five bonus tracks tacked on (hence the 1.5 in the album title). This isn't fantastic music, and the beats fall slightly short of Connected's shimmering textures. But if you're looking for easy, hip-hop-flavored background music, there's worse music out there, and Nicolay's instrumentals continue to impress enough to validate keeping an eye on this rising star. Suggestion for the artist: Let's see what you can do with house.
Nicolay Web site
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