It’s Time To Give Nines His Flowers – He’s A Modern Great

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The release of Nines’ latest album ‘Crop Circle 2’ further solidifies his position as one of the most prolific rappers to come out of the UK, fiercely championed by fans – and deservedly so. With a discography spanning over 10 years, the North-West London prodigy has cleverly carved out a unique lane for himself; his ventures not exclusive to music, Nines has begun building a mogul-like empire that stands to see him become a legendary name. It’s all forged from a raw passionate approach to his artistry, and incredible attention to detail. Yet despite his impressive fan base, it still feels like Nines is due his flowers… and then some. 

Many people’s official introduction to Nines came off the back of his ‘shutdowns’, his first series of visuals characterised by community-wide givebacks. The turkey, J.D and grills shutdowns testament to his community spirit, with him running up tabs and putting smiles on faces – he quickly became renowned outside of Church End. The Robin Hood-esque philanthropy ultimately offered the first glimpses of his expert knack for marketing with each shutdown soundtracked by a single. ‘CR’, ‘My Hood’ and ‘AJ’d Out’ were all showcased in this way, and each would go on to be standouts on his debut mixtape ‘From Church Road to. Hollywood’.  “Skinny n*gga with a fat belly, selling cheese straight off the Blackberry,”  from ‘CR’ became an instant wheel up.  

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Music heads welcomes Nines’ dual-embrace of nostalgia and authenticity, with his low flow, metaphoric lyricism and real-life relatability being championed. Put simply: a man of the people with the prowess to back it up. 

Prior to the release of his debut project, Nines made his first appearance for SBTV. His Warm Up Session is widely considered of the best of the entire series, his allegiance with the late Jamal Edwards (and the platform more broadly) becoming prominent after that. 

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2013 saw him release second tape ‘Gone Til November’ as well as freestyles for SBTV and the drop of his infamous Fire In The Booth – the latter video boasting 29Million+ YouTube views to date. His bars over The Weeknd’s ‘Rolling Stone’ exploded – dissimilar to anything at the time, he delivered hood heat on one of the nation’s most mainstream stations. It also represented the first taste of his listicle style approach tp relationships, a fun feat still championed in his music a decade later – most recently on his Top 20 single ‘Calendar’. Even as he has elevated, Nines’ music has been unwavering in distinction, his story-telling ability shining through from those early days right up to now. 

‘Loyal To Soil’ was arguably the next major milestone for Nines, the first of his projects to be released in conjunction with SBTV. Tracks like ‘Money On My Mind’ and ‘Gave It All’ made big waves, the latter sampling Aaliyah’s ‘Never No More’. Indeed, beat selection remains a key element in the success of numerous rap greats and Nines is no different. Although sampling has been an ever-present aspect within music, in 2014 not many ‘street rappers’ had scope for the epic tracks that Nines and his production team have drawn from. 

By the time Nines dropped ‘One Foot In’, he was already considered to be in the Premier League. ‘Can’t Blame Me (ft Haile)’ and ‘Yay’ hugely in rotation. The Harlesden native’s lyrical ability undeniable but his songwriting prowess and anthemic knack began to really reign. The mixtape enlisting and subsequently helping propel upcomers at the time, such as Tiggs Da Author, TE Dness and Nafe Smallz. Another reason why when we’re talking flowers, we need to give Nines his dues for seemingly to always hold out an eye and ear for good music and young talent. 

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Fast forward to album mode; his fittingly named debut ‘One Foot Out’ was one for the record books. Announced a day before its release and peaking at #4 in the UK Album Chart, Nines became one of few British rappers at the time to break into the Top Five. Not considered a commercial rapper in any regard, he stayed true to himself while rocketing to the levels occupied by that of legacy acts like Skepta and Giggs. 

His sophomore album ‘Crop Circle’ seeing him up the ante yet again, lead single ‘I See You Shining’ helping to secure him the #2 position in the Album Charts and a staple in every DJ set in the summer of 2018. Dave, SL, WSTRN and more featured on the project, with songs like ‘Make It Up 2 U’ contrasted with the introspective lyricism of ‘Venting’. 

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Given how well thought out his ‘Crabs In The Bucket’ became, there was no surprise when it gained Nines’ his first number one. One of his most diverse projects to date, it called on guests NorthSideBenji, Roy Woods, Odeal, Skrapz, NSG, Headie One and others. ‘Airplane Mode’ grabbed NSG for an initially unexpected feature but would go onto be the song of the summer, reaffirming him as a great – his record now standing at three for three.

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10 years following his breakout, Nines gifts us with ‘Crop Circle 2’ – new music very hotly anticipated especially following Nines’ public stint in prison. Again, announced with little to no lead time but still met instantly with raw excitement from fans. A decorated rapper, commercial success is now a given for him – surfing the charts and appealing to global audiences all while keeping some of the same features fans saw on his early mixtapes. Speaking of rogue samples, the album pulls from ‘Side Effect’ and ‘New Edition’. 

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An all-rounder, the 33-year-old’s notoriety has been product of his expansion beyond the music. Kicking off with ‘Crop Circle’, his albums have come with self-directed short films, dramatized productions with both elite and hilarious performances from the prominent names across the scene. His inclusion of young stars in his films, mirroring the steadfast bring-ins of his ICB members and budding talent on his projects. Through steadfast commitment to his own abilities, Nines has been able to construct a timeless discography, affording him a sense of influence that allows him to take a quality over quantity approach to music. Truly, Nines is one of the best we have.

Words: Shanté Collier-McDermott