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The Expert to release collaborative album with NAHreally featuring guests Open Mike Eagle, Hemlock Ernst & more

The Expert to release collaborative album with NAHreally featuring guests Open Mike Eagle, Hemlock Ernst & more


The Dublin producer The Expert is following up his recent album with rappers Stik Figa and Jermiside with a collaboration with another American rapper NAHreally.

NAHreally is a Massachusetts MC, and The Expert says of the release:

“I first heard NAHreally’s music in late 2021 and was utterly floored. I had not heard anyone quite like him before, so clever and witty, and started smiling and laughing throughout the listen of his project “Loose Around The Edges”. I was absolutely hooked, going through his full discography, and had to reach out to him.

Guests on the record include Open Mike Eagle, Hemlock Ernst (Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring), Dillon and Jesse The Tree.

The album is being released on Rucksack Records on March 29th, and the first song you can hear is the short track ‘Bubble Wrap’ before the first single proper, with the album available on Bandcamp.

The Expert also has a Substack newsletter. Album notes below.

Writing raps in a conversational tone, really saying something that an audience can connect with, without relying on flashy flows or overly intricate wordplay, is a delicate art. What appears effortless and free-flowing on a track is often the result of many heavily revised drafts, an intricately devised set of interlocking ideas that seems much easier than it actually is. Being a successful regular-guy rapper, an everyman in a world of colorful characters, is like trying to draw a perfect circle freehand, a task that many have attempted but almost no one can do consistently.

NAHreally is a bedroom rap savant who has been steadily improving as a craftsman with each successive annual release. His witty, well-spoken raps are full of folksy wisdom and wry observations. Listening to NAHreally is like having a conversation with your smart, funny friend, that dude who doesn’t say much, but when he does speak there are always little pearls of wisdom among the stony, scattered thoughts. He’s living proof that one can acquire an above-average vocabulary without finishing the books stacked up on the nightstand. NAH has an admirable ability to use the structure of rap songs to expose life’s little absurdities. His raps can be funny or touching, they can teach and they can call things into question. He comes across as an observant, thoughtful artist, making his way through life, watching basketball, walking his dog, going to rap shows and open mics, and cracking jokes, all along the way penning deceptively simple verses that can illuminate the corners of what often feels like a dim existence. If you’re reading this, it’s very likely that describes your life as well. Maybe it’s time to make a new friend.

Producer The Expert has a gift for weaving together colorful sonic fabrics into vivid new tapestries. He has a particularly deft touch with turning ear-catching moments from other records into psychedelic collages that evoke feelings of lightness, and freedom, and work both as standalone tracks or as canvases onto which emcees can apply their embellishments. “I believe my most important tool is basically my ears,” he said. “I listen to a lot of mediocre music, essentially waiting to find an interesting snippet or sound. Rinse and repeat. It’s a game of patience and endurance most of the time.”

The Expert has been on a hot streak of “one emcee and one producer” collaborations lately, each with their own unique flavor, and he has now turned his attention to working with NAHreally on their new album, ‘BLIP.’ Though an ocean separates their physical locations, as artists they fell almost immediately into an extended conversation, exchanging musical and lyrical ideas framed around a set of references rooted in mutual fandom of wordy, slightly off-putting media. Rather than the standard remote working style prevalent in hip-hop, of sending mostly-finished beat packs and receiving mostly finished verses that just need a little fine-tuning before release, NAH and The Expert instead embarked on a lengthy correspondence, exchanging their thoughts on almost 100 four-bar loops and beat sketches that were then carefully paired with themes and verse fragments and slowly iterated into the outstanding realized tracks that make up this record.

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The end result is a dynamic and open-armed album, inviting the listener into its trippy sonic universe, with a lived-in quality that feels like the two artists have been collaborating for years. The Expert’s airy beats pair extraordinarily well with NAHreally’s thoughtful observations. NAH’s flow weaves in and out of the heavily melodic beats with ease. Nothing is quite straightforward, as there are plenty of unexpected switches that keep the listener’s ear attuned, without pulling attention too far away from the intellectually edifying lyrics. The album’s intricate construction is enhanced by well-chosen guests such as the underground rap hero (uncoincidentally also possessed of a conversational flow) Open Mike Eagle and the droll yet melodic part-time rapper Hemlock Ernst. Both emcees contribute verses that are in line with their respective songs’ themes, that work to further deepen them instead of just tacking on a “name” to hopefully increase listens, as well as hooks that make their tracks some of the album’s high points.

‘BLIP’ is full of humor, pathos, life lessons, and well-honed skills displayed in a cohesive package that is probably most similar to Edan’s psych rap masterpiece ‘Beauty & The Beat,’ though it also brings to mind a slew of other well-chosen cultural touchstones that have been fed into the MPC and emerged on the other side as well-ordered but continually surprising little treatises on living in contemporary culture. Think of it like a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style comedy of manners, with more banging beats and an acute awareness of the awkwardness of “rap hands.”

—Nate LeBlanc

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