Nolan The Ninja Cuts To The Front Of His Class With His Mello Music Debut (Audio)

Detroit, Michigan MC/producer Nolan The Ninja is at the forefront of Motown’s Underground Hip-Hop scene. Along with his partner-in-crime A-Minus, and contemporaries like battle cat Ty Farris, the reinvented Bang Belushi, RSXGLD’s Ro Spit, and more, he is leading the charge of a hardcore brand of Rap coming out of the D.

Nolan has been making noise for years (including a 2015 Ambrosia For Heads “SPOTLIGHT” feature). He has been co-signed by his city’s cult-lauded O.G.s like Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, Royce 5’9, and Black Milk. This cast worked with Ninja on his last two full-length albums, 2017’s YEN and 2016’s He(art). However, his new album Sportee may likely be the LP that gets this Midwest MC the wider attention he deserves.

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This recently released LP is Nolan’s first on Mello Music Group (Oddisee, Apollo Brown, Quelle Chris), as well as his only drop produced by a sole producer (other than himself). 5ynoT is the beat-smith behind Sportee’s decidedly 1990s feel, and he does an excellent job of fostering nostalgia, while still putting his own spin on the sound. For example, on the two-part “Deity” he flips a classic break-beat that EPMD, Alkaholiks, and JAY-Z popularized, but he filters it in a new way. “2 Cents” has echoes of Smif-N-Wessun’s “Sound Bwoy Bureill,” although it doesn’t rock the same sample or interpolate any lyrics from the Boot Camp classic.

With Nolan being able to focus solely on the raps this time around, he goes harder than ever. His punchlines, inside references, and references to 1990s Hip-Hop will have Heads smiling from ear to ear…inwardly at the very least. Plus, lyrical contributions from The Cool Kids’ Chuck Inglish, Slum Village’s T3, Boog Brown and Kooley High’s Charlie Smarts help realize the vibe Nolan is shooting for.

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As if the 15 tracks on Sportee weren’t enough fire for fans to digest, he includes six bonus tracks to give supporters some more bang for their buck. It is worth pointing out that the “SP1200 Freestyle” is a tribute to the Pete Rock-backed InI and their underrated debut Center Of Attention, and it shouts out Grap Luva and his brother Pete Rock. Also, “Poe” ends with a sample of one of the best scenes in Season 1 of Atlanta.

Press photograph by Andre Moore provided by Mello Music Group.