Jonah Bromwich may or may not also endorse “Nacho Libre.”
New artists aren’t supposed to have fully developed voices. But Nacho Picasso has one. His subject matter may be simple, but he’s got one the best eyes for detail west of New Orleans and had the wherewithal to conjoin, within his persona, the provocative, oddball indie rapper with legitimate-sounding menace. And the punchlines help. They help a lot.
We learn who Nacho is within a minute of the first song. The chorus of the first track, “Bad Guy” is simple: “I’ve been a bad guy/ since my dad died/ I’ve been a bitch[‘s] dream/ since I was sixteen.” That’s it, and it’s pretty much all you need to know. For the rest of the record Nacho elaborates, mostly in the form of jokes and outrageous boasts. Occasionally, he’ll layer one-liners so that a rhyme that at first seems throwaway eventually unfurls to reveal a full hand. “Give it up, whose bars are better/ I stand behind my bars, like a bartender/ your flows so soft nigga huh?, your bars are tender.” His usually-slow flow renders his delivery pitch-perfect, letting him score points both on lines that are clever and lines that are stupid-clever (a la Soulja Boy).
His song “Marvel” bests its brothers in gimmickry,( MF Doom and Unicron’s “Who’s a Hero?” and Proof and Co’s “Super Friends ) by actually displaying both an impressive amount of knowledge about comic books and the joy of a true fanatic. (Dude name-drops both Giant Man and Omega Red amongst a million others.) “Walkman” mixes an origin story with references to video games and Edgar Allen Poe and asserts Picasso’s West Coast cred: he’s listening to Cube and Snoop on his Walkman.
That the record sound so cohesive, so fully-formed, is due in no small part to excellent production throughout by Seattle duo, Blue Sky Black Death (as well as occasional spots by Raised by Wolves and Eric G). These beats complement Nacho perfectly, mixing the staccato bursts and handclaps of jerk music and Southern Hip-Hop with vibrant strings and dark bass to form a hybrid of classic and contemporary rap beats. The vibe is young, stoned, and gangster as shit. Which makes sense, as it’s exactly what Nacho professes to be.
Though I’ve been effusive here, For the Glory isn’t a five mics record by any means. There’s still too many stupid lines, too little actual subject matter, and he makes two Sweeney Todd references, which is kind of overkill. But it’s startling (to say the least) that an artist whose name fetches exactly one (1) result when you type it into the 2dopeboyz search bar could release something of such high quality, in virtual anonymity and to no fanfare whatsoever. But trust me, the fanfare is bound to start any day now. Because Nacho Picasso doesn’t sound like the future. He sounds like right now.