Concept Vague, by Night Lovell
Suggested by Krystian Musztafa
After two-hundred-and-twenty-five album reviews in the space of almost three months, it was time for a break.
“Nice,“ I thought. “A full eight days to recharge and recoup, with no deadlines looming large. And best of all, no bloody rap albums!”
I began the journey with an open mind, and a history of enjoying rap music, to a certain degree. The fickle fates decided early on to test my rap resolve, employing the Randomiser to throw album after album straight into my rapidly rebelling ears. It came thick and fast, at odds with its weighted ratio on the Masterlist.
My break was multi-purposed. I hoped that, with eight rap-free days, I’d come back with a heightened level of tolerance. And who knows? Maybe the Randomiser would be kind, give me a few more days free of shouty sweary boasty pervy criminals.
Album One? Rap.
Album Three? More Rap.
I can’t escape from hip hop hell.
Night Lovell is a Canadian rapper in the modern style. I’d be remiss not to poke fun of this, so let’s try some Canadian Rapping.
I’m Night, Canadian born and bred,
With my maple leaf and my flip-top head.
A ladies man, there ain’t no smoother,
From Banff to Calgary to Vancouver.
Making mad money, got bills to spare,
Never going broke with my free health care.
Step to me, punk, I’ll point and shoot,
Because icing fools is what I’m aboot.
Concept Vague is Night Lovell’s 2014 debut, and on the face of it there’s a lot to enjoy. Musically, it’s sparse and ominous, with a throbbing bassline overplayed by a variety of delicate instrumental melodies that conjure up the main refrains of The Omen or The Exorcist. The effect is unsettling, setting the listener on edge, waiting for a jump scare that’s always around the corner.
The feeling of dread is damn cool, a welcome departure from similar acts. Night’s vocal is a droning buzz that oozes menace, seemingly devoid of emotion, delivered by a dead-eyed psychopath that you actually believe would kill you for a cigarette. It’s disquieting; you listen into the vitriol with one eye cast over your shoulder to avoid being shot in the back.
Sadly, there’s a sticking point for me: Night’s vocabulary. In a word? There’s not many words.
His rapping technique is fine, but there’s a limited verbal palette from which to paint.
Night concentrates on four words. The first begins with C (Cash). Of the four words, it’s the one he uses the least. The next word up begins with F. He uses that a lot. The two remaining words, which begin with B and N respectively. For usage, B just edges out N, and likely takes up a full fifth of all the words on the album. Sure, all rappers use all four of these words prolifically, but Night loves these words above all others, as if he’s hoping to break world records for their use, or as if he’s being paid a pound each time one is uttered.
I give Concept Vague a passable 5/10. I did quite like the ominous musicality, and there are songs to enjoy (my standout The Renegade Never Dies, or Light from the Car, or the finale Dark Light). And, overall, I didn’t hate hearing the standard hip hop tropes again, so things do bode well for the genre down the line.