Review by Aidan S.
Toronto, Ontario, home to N.I.F.T.Y., another of Canada’s offerings to the world of Hip Hop. N.I.F.T.Y. stands for “Nothing’s Impossible for The Youth”, his surname is actually Christian and he likes acronyms. He hosts and produces his own radio show, is a counselor for his church and also happens to make music for his own Higher Intel Music label. T.H.E. O.N.E.S is N.I.F.T.Y.’s latest L.P.
T.H.E. O.N.E.S is a concept album of sorts. Each track focuses on a “one”; “Give it Up (One Gathering)”, “Christ-like (One Mind)” etcetera. T.H.E. O.N.E.S stands for “Through His Example, Our Numbers Enter Salvation” and it’s an intensely gospel-centered album. N.I.F.T.Y.’s content is encouraging, challenging and true to the word of God. In places it’s exceedingly bold, “Missing Link (One Parent Missing)” being the prime example of this as he drops some truly great advice at the same time as outlining the worst case scenario result of not heeding his counsel. Each track takes a particular people group into its scope and brings Christ to them in a relevant way.
Lyrically N.I.F.T.Y. doesn’t attempt abstract poetry but there’s word play, varied rhyme patterns and simple multi-syllabic rhymes – it’s evident his focus is mainly on presenting his subject matter and making himself as clear as possible. “The Journey (One Way)” featuring Spoken and Relic showcases his lyrical style perfectly: “Before I enter the Kingdom, I gotta leave first, so I’m parted from my ways like Moses parted the waves, A C/sea section, I ain’t talking a breach birth… My tank is never empty, Most High, yo, is filling it, you feeling it? Yo, I light up like a filament” – entertaining and fairly clever.
N.I.F.T.Y. has an authoritative voice and presence on this record. His vocals hold the strange ability to evoke the sound of Hip Hop legends such as Jay-Z (particularly on “Crooked Preachers (One-sided View)” where he deliberately mimics him) – he has a mainstream but credible and classic voice. It’s not just the voice that calls other artists to mind, some of the beats stir up memories of Nas’s back catalog. I rarely draw comparisons but in this instance I felt reminded of some of Hip Hop’s most enduring artists but at no point does it detract from N.I.F.T.Y.’s own artistry – this is not just “the Christian version of…”.
Look past the slightly odd name of the artist and you will find an album of great worth. With subject matter including unhelpful role models, neglectful parenthood, broken relationships and pride this set of tracks has something to say. N.I.F.T.Y. has put together a mature and consistent set of tracks which has no serious downfalls, even if it doesn’t have an original edge to it.