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  • Micah Chudleigh

Sample Sessions ~ NSG Roots

Updated: Aug 24



East London based collective NSG have rose astronomically to superstardom in recent years. With hits such as '6.30' and 'Yo Darlin'' catching the ear of the streets, the group achieved incredible mainstream success with the Tion Wayne assisted anthem 'Options'. On Friday, NSG released their debut mixtape 'Roots', a mashing together of several genres such as Afrobeats, Bashment, R&B and even Reggae. Admittedly, with it being a debut, I really don't know what to expect, but as always, no skips, no pauses and only one listen.



1. Political Badness 



Political Badness is a very fun and creative opening to the album. There’s a clear inspiration from golden era reggae here both sonically and in the title; I’ll be honest, I smiled when I realised the ‘Arthur’ TV show sample. The ‘I used to do robberies back in the day... Still haven’t changed my ways!’ hook sounds like it belongs in the middle of the rave, screamed out by the entire club. Some bad patois in here but the track is so infectious that it’s forgivable. Really bright start to the album.


Highlights: 

Great hook and sample, seems like this one could go off at the post-corona events. Whoever played the bass on this track needs a Grammy.


Lowlights:

Shaky patois but other than that a pretty solid opening to the album. 

Delivery: 7

Lyricism: 5

Production: 8

Overall: 6.6

2. MCM


Another pretty fun track, anyone else tired of the term MCM? I didn’t even like it when it was being used in the right context. This seems like a lot of what you would expect from NSG, not that that’s a bad thing; it has that signature NSG 4-beat intro that forces your head to start bopping up and down before you even realise. The tracks seems just the right length before it got too repetitive - all in all, a pretty solid start to the album.


Highlights:

Production is insane, I don’t even know who produced this but it feels like JAE5 was in his duffle bag. A good thing about NSG is that you get loads of different verses and all of them felt unique on this track.


Lowlights:

Kinda feels a bit like a J Hus throwaway from 2017. Also I feel like the rap verse at the end doesn’t really fit in with the track’s vibe or direction.


Delivery: 6

Lyricism: 5

Production: 8

Overall: 6.3

3. Lupita



This one is definitely an after the club selection. I always wonder how famous people feel when they have songs named after them; especially for a song that’s clearly designed for baby-making. Lupita Nyong'o probably doesn’t even know that people are going to be conceiving children to a song in her name. Anyway, this is another strong track; I imagine it’ll probably go overlooked as a whole due to the fact it’s not a huge club tune but a really good track nonetheless. The production on this album so far has really been top tier, I don’t have any of the info on who did what but so far it’s all been amazing.


Highlights:

The trumpet in the background! Careless Whisper by George Michael had the greatest trumpet ever until I heard this song. You don’t really come to NSG for lyricism (at least I hope not) but this is a relatively strong performance from them in that regard. 


Lowlights:

Track gets a bit too repetitive after a while, definitely could’ve used a feature for a some variety.


Delivery: 5

Lyricism: 7

Production: 9

Overall: 7



4. Nonsense


I asked for a feature and lo and behold I was given one! It's undeniable, Chip really stole the show on this one, but the track is still fun nonetheless. Another one that feels like it’s gonna go off whenever we’re allowed back outside. Pretty clear at this point that NSG have a formula for the sound that they’re sticking to for this album - I’m not mad at it. I feel like they’ve found their sound for club bangers and they’re not budging too far from it.


Highlights:

Chip killed his verse and made up for some of the shaky patois on track one. Production is great again.


Lowlights:

Seems like a pretty forgettable track outside of Chip’s verse, hook doesn’t hit the way some other classic NSG hooks have. 


Delivery: 3

Lyricism: 5

Production: 7

Overall: 5

5. Tinder 



Tinder has always seemed like a madness to me; there’s so many easier ways to disappoint your parents than being the booty call for someone who’s lying about their height and/or weight. Anyway, I think the problem NSG have is that because there’s as many members as there are (notice I didn’t put a number), it’s tough for all of them to maintain the same vibe on a song. So, sometimes it feels like it’s a all over the place and that’s the case here; all the ingredients for a great song but doesn’t really hit. 


Highlights:

Good production, not as strong as the other tracks but carries this one.


Lowlights:

As I said, the production really carries the song. On top of that, hard to stay focused on the track because it doesn’t feel like anyone’s on the same page with this one.


Delivery: 3

Lyricism: 3

Production: 6

Overall: 4

6. Why Stress



Song is called ‘Why Stress’ but I’m stressed because there’s no question mark. My first take away, again, is the production; I need to find all the production credits ASAP and give these people their flowers. Song is cool but loses momentum midway through. Definitely a very catchy beat but nothing much to write home about. Also, never thought I’d hear a bar about Isco of all the football players out there.


Highlights:

Great guitar loop throughout the whole track, you can tell whoever did this one just decided midway through that they were going to take the loop wherever they wanted to and did just that. 


Lowlights:

‘Shots like Isco’ - 16 games and 1 goal in the La Liga this season so there’s no way your opps are worried. The transitions between verses just feels slightly forced and disjointed. Very forgettable song.


Delivery: 3

Lyricism: 2

Production: 7

Overall: 4

7. Zanoitti 


Whoa! Okay this one is madness. JAE5’s producer tag showed up on the album like Captain Marvel did at the end of Endgame and definitely does not disappoint. Track is a lot of fun, right from the first line of the song - that ends up serving as the hook. Really catchy melodies and a really infectious song all together - one of the albums high points so far.


Highlights:

The hook is crazy. As I write this I’m already singing along to it. I didn’t even know what Zanoitti was before this so they’re getting extra props for making me feel broke. Also, JAE5 proving once again why he’s the best producer in the UK.


Lowlights:

Not really much you could say, to be honest. I guess you could say lacking great lyricism but I mean, who really cares?


Delivery: 8

Lyricism: 6

Production: 8

Overall: 7.3

8. Porsche 


I actually don’t like Porsche’s as cars and I don’t like this song. I don’t even really like the production too much, I don’t like how common these ‘off-white’ puns are becoming in hip-hop because I don’t like Off-White clothes or the colour off-white. I also don’t like this drum pattern that I feel like I’ve heard from NSG a million times - you know which one I mean. Honestly I say all of this to say, I don’t like this song. 


Highlights:

Catchy at least. I feel like younger fans might enjoy this one a bit more.


Lowlights:

Too repetitive, which makes the fact that what they’re repeating is bad, even worse. Probably the weakest song production-wise too - very forgettable song.


Delivery: 2

Lyricism: 2

Production: 5

Overall: 3

9. Expensive 


‘Zanoitti’, ‘Porsche’ and now ‘Expensive’, if they wanted to make me feel broke they’ve succeeded. Unfortunately, the last two of those haven’t made me feel anything like the first one. Another pretty disappointing track - I will give them the credit of trying to be a bit more experimental on this one but it hasn’t worked. It has that kind of early 10’s pop-house type of feel to the track but just doesn’t suit NSG at all. Relies too heavily on auto tune - which does work, often - but in this case is just pretty annoying. 


Highlights:

A different approach from NSG I guess? The production isn’t necessarily great but is very risky and creative.


Lowlights:

The auto tune is too whiny and annoying to be anything other than a skip on this album. The track just doesn’t make sense either and honestly kind of feels like they’re all singing about the same girl. 


Delivery: 3

Lyricism: 3

Production: 4

Overall: 3.3

10. dRuNk gUiTaR


The album definitely gets back on track here - another baby-making song! I always love those tracks where the vibe is sex but the lyrics are able to mix with other topics too, this song does that well. The (dRuNk) guitar really haunts the track, gives the whole thing a really mysterious air to it as whole, but it's well balanced out by the lyrics and the lighter melodies. All the verses are really strong here too, more really infectious and catchy melodies. 


Highlights:

Really melodic, catchy but not in the repetitive sense. Infectious but not in the annoyingly distinct way. Production is phenomenal, they’ve been amazing over guitar loops on this album as a whole.


Lowlights: 

There’s something about the way they transition between verses that’s really bugging. It just feels like it could be way more cohesive and way less like they’re waiting for someone to grab the mic off them.


Delivery: 7

Lyricism: 5

Production: 9

Overall: 7

11. Jorja 



Another song named after somebody, another loads of babies being made in their honour. This time Jorja Smith is the muse to a R&B/00’s dancehall infused track. This is a really good track and definitely a massive step out of their comfort zone - a step that’s worked massively this time. I don’t know their names but whoever it is that took the lead on this track did an amazing job. This formula really works for NSG - I much prefer hearing them make music where they have one person being that bridge between verses. This really helps take away how disjointed some of the transitions feel on the album. This is my favourite track so far.


Highlights:

Whoever took the lead on this song really held it down. All the verses are strong too, so many good lines and quotables that you can send to your girl when you run out of ideas. Best song on the album so far. Production is again amazing, really great and innovative infusion of R&B and dancehall.

Lowlights:

Can’t think of any other than the verse where he tried to interpolate the Shabba Ranks ‘ting-a-ling’ line. 


Delivery: 8

Lyricism: 7

Production: 10

Overall: 8.3



12. Samba 



After dipping into their creativity bag, NSG resort back to what they know best on this track. This is very much in the mould of OT Bop and that track ‘Porsche’. I’ve already stated how I feel about that signature drum loop and that’s prevalent all over this song. Very forgettable track as a whole, the album could do without it.


Highlights:

Hook is pretty clever in terms of lyricism, also nice use of samples/voice notes breaks the track up well


Lowlights:

Song as a whole is too repetitive, the beat is too similar to everything they’ve ever put out and is forgettable as a whole.


Delivery: 4

Lyricism: 5

Production: 7

Overall: 5.3

13. Grandad 


This album is full of song titles that I never imagined being song titles. ‘Grandad’ is cool as a track, nothing too special but not particularly bad. Another track with a great trumpet in the back and the production as whole is very simple, but in that ‘less is more’ way. 


Highlights:

Fun and somewhat bouncy track. Really great trumpet lurking in the back of the song. The raps are definitely holding the song together more so than the melodies.


Lowlights:

The melodies feel kinda misplaced here, like they can’t keep up with the track. Song lacks a really distinctive, listenable hook.


Delivery: 5

Lyricism: 5

Production: 8

Overall: 6


14. Ourself 


This track feels like it was made in the same session as ‘Expensive’, the only difference is that this one came out considerably better. Obviously this has been out a while and most people have heard this, but this is a really good song. Great catchy hook, infectious beat and definitely keeps you interested right to the end.


Highlights:

Another great NSG performance over a guitar loop. The key change near the end of the song was excellent and very strong performances in every verse.


Lowlights:

Not many, if any. Maybe could use another verse, funnily enough.


Delivery: 7

Lyricism: 5

Production: 9

Overall: 7

15. Roots 


Straight away the TSB producer tag caught my attention - TSB produced some of my favourite tracks on Big Conspiracy (my album of the year) so anything new from him always has my interest. The beat is great - has that duality between being very haunting and mysterious but also light enough for the type of melodies that NSG love. The track works on every level, another strong effort and easily an album highlight.

Highlights:

Excellent melodies and a really catchy song throughout. Excellent production and some decent lyricism throughout.

Lowlights:

Song kind of just.... ends. Feels like there might have been a better way to close off such a strong track


Delivery: 6

Lyricism: 4

Production: 8

Overall: 6

16. Trust Issues


Another song that was released as a single so has been out for a while, but still a great track nonetheless. The ‘if I was outchea I would even rob myself’ line kills me because I just picture that image in my head every time. This pocket is a really good one for them, that lighter, relaxing vibe helps take away from what is a very intense album delivery-wise. I also think as a song it just works, the song itself is an easy-listen.


Highlights:

Second verse is really great, really singable melody, the third verse is great for that too with some great quotable lines on top of that. The production I love, really different bag for NSG but works nonetheless 


Lowlights:

Feels like the final verse wasn’t really needed too much, would’ve been much better if those second and third verses were allowed to go on longer


Delivery: 7

Lyricism: 7

Production: 9

Overall: 7.6



17. OT Bop



This song is annoying because every time I listen to it I wait for the Drake verse and then I remember. I’m still not sure whether that was just great promotion or fraudulent behaviour but life goes on. This is another single that the streets have had for a while now so not much for me to say other than that the ‘went uni, sold drugs’ line is British history.

Highlights: Great song in terms of really catchy and quotable lines. Production is very creative and the song holds up relatively well as a rap song.

Lowlights: Goes on a bit too long and gets slightly repetitive.


Delivery: 7

Lyricism: 5

Production: 9

Overall: 7



18. Options



NSG close the album out with their biggest and arguably most important hit, 'Options'. For a brief period of my life, 'I make money online' was the only thing playing in my head on repeat. As much as this song was everywhere for a brief period, there's really no denying that it's a great song for what it is - a fun and enjoyable club banger.


Highlights: One of the most iconic hooks in recent memory. Tion Wayne's verse breaks up the track really well. JAE5 floated again with his production.


Lowlights: Seems a weird track to close off the album with


Delivery: 7

Lyricism: 7

Production: 9

Overall: 7.6


Overall, this isn't a bad album at all. If you're looking for fun, infectious club anthems that you'll be humming at random points of the day - this album, and NSG as a whole, is for you. Some welcome experimentation, quotable and repeatable one liners and all-round upbeat vibe makes for a really enjoyable project. The album's issues lie in both the high volume of tracks and the low number of features. There are certain songs on this album that are just not good enough to be there and only serves to add length to the runtime - as well as serving as a distraction to some of the really good songs on there. On top of that, as much as there are countless members of NSG, the album could do with some features, just to add some fresh voices and sounds into the mix. But all in all, a strong effort and definitely a platform for the group to build on.


Total Score: 6.02




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