UK rapper Nines is back with a new project for the first time since 2018's 'Crop Circle', with his new album titled 'Crabs In A Bucket'. The UK drill artist and trapper made waves back in 2018, and after disappearing for 2 years and even reportedly being stabbed during that time - it was time to see if he could regain that momentum and get his name back their at the top of the UK scene.
Overall the production on here is pretty good, polished and goes hard at certain points, such as on 'Realist' which has a fire beat with deep 808s and a very futuristic atmosphere as he provides hard lines to reflect on success and wealth now compared to his youth when he was flipping packs. Nafe Smallz provides a nice melody and enjoyable hook as Fundz has some braggadocios bars as he glides over this beat effortlessly. The hook is the best part of the song - it's still a decent song however but the verses just aren't as appealing. It's mostly full of suspenseful or dark beats with aggressive 808 patterns, such as on 'Flex' which has this decent drill beat as he talks about flexing his wealth and trapping drugs. NorthsideBeji provides a great hook and REID B2WN has a solid verse clearly influenced by a Roddy Ricch or something. It's another good song, but it would've been better if Nine's delivery was better - the same goes with a few songs on here. At other points the instrumental is more upbeat, glossy and even dance-hall or garage inspired, shown on the song 'Don't Change' as he raps about wanting his girl to stay loyal. The repetition in the verse gives the idea what he's saying is a regular occurrence in his quest for a loyal girl, as Nines drops some funny one liners, "She wanna get on my nerves better than Spurs". NorthsideBenji is on the track and while just OK lyrically, he provides a groovy hook which sounded good. The whole garage feel of the track and drill elements clash together well and it's a great song. It's nothing too different production wise to similar projects but it still sounds good.
Nines lyrically has a few moments where he's either giving us some nice punchlines or bit of wordplay, such as on 'Money Ain't A Thing' where he says, "She'll be gone when I spoil her like the back of my whip (Yeah)", as he makes a song about acquiring great wealth from trapping over this menacing atmosphere and blinking synths with dark 808s. Roy Woods has a decent hook and Nines has a nice flow as the atmosphere of this track helps it to go hard. There's a few times he does a good job at painting an image in our heads of his story, shown straight from the get go of 'Intro (Crabs In A Bucket)' as he drops honest lyrics and really opens up, "Ibiza, I had the time of my life // Came home, found out my dad had cancer, coulda cried all night". The whole track covers a lot such as: making it as a rapper, being institutionalised by the hood and even him being stabbed. The really slowed down, drifty beat isn't too captivating and while it works for a decent introduction, the delivery didn't have too much energy to it and was pretty weak. However, he can get caught in a web of just saying uninteresting or basic things, such as on 'Movie Knights' where he talks about his drug dealing and opps, but despite using basic punchlines and giving us an uninteresting verse lyrically, the beat is great as is his flow - it's a decent song but it could've been better if he managed to keep me more engaged. His flow is nice and smooth but his delivery is his weakest area - its aim is to be laid back and at times this works but there's moments where you just need that energy or aggression in your voice and he doesn't provide it.
Most of the features on here go hard whether that's a verse or just a hook, such as NSG on 'Airplane Mode', as they give us a great hook and solid verses with a few of the members having a funny line or two, for example NSG Mxjib when he says, "She wanna munch me like Teriyaki". The drill bass with a more dance-hall surface layer sounds good as the rappers all flex, reflect on their careers now they've made it and talk on sex. NSG help to push this track to be a banger with their melodic tone and catchy elements as they always do - it's a good song overall. Skrapz was disappointing on 'Energy' despite having a few hard bars as his delivery was incredibly bland on this track. Nines provides some extremely basic punchlines as well as a few funny ones too, "N***** don't say "Thanks" when you open doors for them like a child lock", as the track is about getting money - whether it be from selling packs or making music. The darker sounding beat and heavy, deep 808s sounds great but it's ironic this track is called 'Energy' because there's 0 energy here and it's an extremely boring track. 'All Stars 2' is almost this cypher with many features such as Frosty, who while not the most energetic on here gave a good decent, Chappo CSB had great energy to his verse despite the slightly annoying voice, Q2T has great energy and a solid flow as well as Clavish, who's delivery and flow go hard. The deep and booming 808s with suggestive guitar strings creates a fire beat as they talk on guns, whipping drugs and making it in the rap game. Everybody turns up here as Nines' gives us a great verse, the beat is hard and everybody comes in mean and aggressive - it's another great song. There's a whole load of features however and we rarely get a solo track from Nines - it could've done with a few more of them but it's not a major deal if the music still sounds good.
The majority of the tracks on here talk on his past life as a drug dealer in the streets and the wealth he acquired from trapping, such as on 'NIC' as he tells us how he got into the trap life over these glossy violins, synths and groovy guitar bass. Nines provides some decent storytelling here and a few hard lines, "I ain't a rapper, I'm a drug dealer that raps", as Tiggs Da Author gives us a really enjoyable hook with great harmonising - probably the best hook of the album. It's an enjoyable story to follow, it sounds good and has a nice beat - it's the first time a song on here was really great. Other songs talk about his rap career but mainly compares it to his street life as well as flexing his wealth throughout. All these kind of ideas are summed up on the finale to this 'Outro (Crabs In A Bucket)', as he reflects on his time in the drug game and current success over this beat which creates such an emotional mood and the perfect atmosphere for him to tell us the story he speaks on. It's a good ending to the album, it sums everything up with Nines' usual smooth flow and his laid back delivery works well over this beat. One of the singles leading up to this album 'Clout' is all about how girls only want sex with Nines for clout as well as him being the man before fame. The piano keys and more upbeat, catchier style was great and this is a bit of a banger with a nice hook - however despite it being enjoyable it's still flawed due to the lack of presence on the track. The subject matter on here is unique to his own story as he gives us an insight into his life.
Other tracks to look at include 'Monster' which is about coming from his drug dealing path to fame and success over this darker drill beat with sliding, aggressive 808s. He references multiple UK rappers within his verse here which makes it enjoyable to listen out for, as his laid back delivery works more on this beat and track and it's a good song. 'Lights' has a pretty average beat but Nines paints an image from his view point of his trap lifestyle. Louis Rei has a really gritty delivery and classic drill voice as he gives us a good verse. It's a short but hard hitting track with great verses and a simple but effective hook. 'Ringaling' see's Odeal give us a really nice hook while Headie One glides over this beat with his smooth flow as well as giving us some great lines too, "Babes, you look good but Elizabeth look gorgeous (Chale) // Gotta chase this money, the arse is enormous (Turn, turn, turn)". Speaking of this beat, it's fire with this piano, catchy African drum/bongo pattern and upbeat, relieved mood. It's all about a relationship with a girl - and mainly money. The dance-hall inspired style lets Nines' delivery work well and it's a great track. Finally, on 'Flavours' we see Nines telling us about smoking weed and all the flavours he tries over this glistening and triumphant beat. He has some decent punchlines, and this is a smooth sailing track with relaxed and chilled vibes.
To conclude, Nines glides over the decent production on here providing solid hooks at times with solid verses which make for an enjoyable listen. It's not an album full of versatility or different ideas to the norm - but he makes a few songs that just pass by or seem very forgettable. It's a good return to form, I hope he can drop regularly and not go out on another hiatus - but the biggest issue is that delivery which can make it hard to stay interested or entertained by a song for its full run time.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Clout, Monster, Airplane Mode, NIC, Don't Change, Lights, Money Ain't A Thing, Ringaling, Flavours, Flex, All Stars 2, Outro (Crabs In A Bucket)
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Energy
OVERALL RATING: Light 7/10