Another day, another Bob James sample!
Everyone from Ghostface Killah, to Tweet, to Missy, and (not) surprisingly, Will I Am, has sampled a hook-and-a-half from the pioneering smooth Jazz artist. Therefore, you can understand my weariness when a track sampling one of Bob James’ most fabled creations, Angela (theme from Taxi), floated onto my radar. I hit the “play” button bracing for tragedy, but instead found triumph, and a memorable ode to life in one of the greatest cities on earth.
Meet rapper NSR, and his memorable track “City Life”. A chronicling of the best and worst of times NSR has experienced in New York over the years, the song narrates a simple love largely untold until now. This is not a “my city is the bestest!” track, nor is it a “my city beats your city!” song. And it definitely isn’t an “Empire State of Mind” track proclaiming greatness. Instead, the song invites us to, as NSR raps in the chorus, “come and journey with me through my city life”. The result is a unique slice-of-life completely relate-able and, well, “my city is the bestest!” at the same time.
“City Life”, taken from the rapper’s The Darling Limited EP, is just one small example of everything that makes NSR so damn great. His mission to re-write the current state of rap one welcome-to-my-world rhyme at a time is contagious, connecting him to an audience that has been largely neglected in hip-hop so far. Thugs, hip-hop hipsters, conscious heads–NSR’s target audience is none of these (although, make no mistake, they will listen and love!), but rather just the regular person. The PBR drinking, chess playing, club-hopping, newspaper reading, old skool listening, general good-times having person. You know, just that regular YOU on the other end of the iPod.
Dedication to his rhymes is a way of life for NSR. When meeting him in person, the “Adrien Brody” look-a-like rapper is warm, witty, and genuinely excited by the prospect of making music to share with others. We caught up with the rapper on a cold wintery day earlier this year (wayyy earlier this year!) for an exclusive rooftop performance of “City Life” and a tour around his Upper West Side, with a special stop-off at Lenny’s Bagels.
Check out Episode #2 of We Got the Beat with NSR, below! And visit his site for a free download of The Darling Limited EP.
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