Bar Exam: Nomis – Open Season (Single) [One Listen Review]
Nomis released a new track today entitled “Open Season” featuring Joe Ayinde, J. Crum, Thomas Ianucci, Czar Josh, and Shiwan. Very rarely will I review a single, but at first blush, this doesn’t seem to be just an average single.
The bar exam is a sharing of notes from my true first listen to a project (or today, a song.) I will provide in-depth thoughts and commentary on anything from flows, rhymes, beats, creative direction, track placement, and concepts.
Alright here we go.
The beat is building anticipation as a piano plays a falling scale and synths lay in like sirens. Joe Ayinde is first up. “Peeling off in the whip like the skin of a slave.” That first line will catch your attention! Joe rolls with a well-constructed rhyme scheme and lands on giving God praise. The beat has intensified since the rhymes began, and some ad-libs help Joe along the way as well as some well-timed sound effects that enhance what he’s doing. The perspective changes from 1st person to 2nd person, and it’s like Joe is talking to a muse (or the listener.)
“I’m the best that I know and that is not a toss/Go and tell your top chef that I got the sauce.”
J. Crum is up next and picks up where Joe left off, with a decent rhyme scheme and the 2nd person perspective.
“I don’t believe your twisted face and all your fake bravado/I’m from the place that shake ya voice up like an old vibrato/Who really wanna start a war vs me and mi hermanos/Former felons all they smiles look like El Dorado”
Crum is great with the vocal inflections and changing tone throughout the flow. It’s always puzzling to me though when the perspective continues to change like this in a song. Especially in CHH when it’s me, the listener who is being addressed and it sounds like a diss track towards me. Crum does a good job at labeling who he’s talking about here and spits some flames on his way out.
“Crum the villain he been a menace to y’all elitists/Double ya stripes I’m k-Swiss to y’all adidas/The snake defeated that wicked credence has been deleted/Ouu mighty Jesus He beat the grave and left satan leaking”
Nomis is third up, and he’s always got meat to what he’s saying. It’s incredibly deep to catch everything the first time I’m hearing it, but he’s got a few double entendres, transformers references, and sprinkles in some boasting bars.
“I hit the gas with the fear of passing the Babylon/Cause that’s the power they built the Tower of Babel on/Stuck in a battle on to put trust in the gavel, on a saddle of corruption/They build until the gravels gone”
Nomis is a wordsmith, and he’s good at jumping from scheme to scheme quickly without you noticing. It’s a good shift from the previous two, who took a scheme and ran with it. There’s not only one good way to do this though. Nomis brings some strong punchlines, switches up his style a bit. Maybe a Cruz Cordero reference in there? There are a few bars I had to go back and hear again (yes I rewound it.) Check out this –
“Think before you send for reproduction or to mastering/A massive influx of pageantry, has sent the good hiding/While they’re mad I bring you good tidings of joy/From his majesty, a good guiding avoids cheap tricks but employs good writing”
Mastering/Pageantry/Majesty all rhyme but in the middle of those you’ve got another rhyme connecting with Hiding/Tiding/Guiding/Writing. Strong work!
The first significant change to the music bed is next. The beat stays the same, but a droning guitar sound and some synth spice it up a bit. Czar Josh jumps in.
“They ask, Benz or a Beamer/I be like Neither I’m a dreamer/Coolin in Louisiana/Drippin like Katrina/Word to my shawty/She creole she got that flavor/righteous in her heart/But prone to ratchet behavior”
I dig the performance here by Josh. I feel like it’s fewer bars than the emcees before, but he’s confident in what he’s bringing. “You a slave to my rhyme’s pages.” He throws in that 2nd person perspective as well, so now I’m wondering who the audience of this track really is and if they’re all on the same page with it.
Thomas Ianucci is no stranger to the bar exam, but it’s been awhile. His gravely voice almost fades in like he’s singing to us. He starts in the second person as well and seems to really have a beef with someone.
“I do not have friends, only admirers/If you want this smoke, you need fire first/I bring the fireworks, you more fyre fest/And now you’re screwed like Ja Rule with the IRS”
Yeah, I think Thomas just dropped a diss track freestyle.
Shiwan is batting clean up. Comes in with some vocal doubling that automatically heightens the intensity of the track.
“You know God erects my path to see clear/You get the Visine/Turning west flicking through these ultralight hi-beams/Don’t talk too much and when I do they listen with the side lean”
I don’t think I’ve ever written so much about one song. There’s a lot to digest here. It did seem like as the song went on each rapper brought fewer bars. I also felt like I missed out on something because of the blatant diss track battle rapping throughout. Or maybe I missed the explanation of the song somewhere? One thing for sure is that it’s a fun track. There’s something that feels good about a bunch of emcees just hopping on a track and doing their thing. The song included a few performances that were far above the bar, but as a whole, I didn’t feel like it stayed there.
Overall Rating: At The Bar
Do you agree? Listen to Open Season Below:
Purchase or stream here.