Review: Nines, ‘Crop Circle’

Nines’ sophomore release is a stellar embodiment of the life of a trapstar.

British rapper Nines has firmly established himself as the face of UK trap. His debut album, One Foot Out, was released in early 2017 with one day’s notice. The same is the case for its follow-up, dropping completely by surprise. His relaxed flow and stories about the trap have never failed to engage fans. With one of the best UK releases of 2017 under his belt, Crop Circle has a lot to live up to, especially because no one was expecting another release by Nines this soon.

Fortunately, Nines is the best he’s ever been. Crop Circle is an album with plenty lavish trap hits just like its predecessor. While One Foot Out was more introspective, Crop Circle takes a more upbeat approach to fully portray Nines’ trapstar lifestyle. The subject matter may remain the same, but Nines’ ear for beats and hook-writing continues to be as impressive as ever.

On Crop Circle, trapping has never sounded so grand. “Trapstar” is the default theme song for the album, featuring a memorable hook by J Styles and the usual hard-hitting texture that give Nines’ music exceptional replay value (“Hopped out the spaceship”). The brag rap one-liners are in abundance, like on the spacey “Tony Soprano” (“Your re-up probably fit in a bra / My re-up couldn’t fit in a car”) and lead single “I See You Shining” (“I stay strapped like some lesbos”).

As always, Nines raps over the best trap production UK producers have to offer. The melodies on beats for songs like “Re-Up” and “Haze” is what gives Crop Circle the consistent replay value that not many UK albums are able to provide. The hardest beat on the album goes to “Line of Fire Pt. 5”, an Ice City Boyz posse cut that strictly focuses on rapping as each member give verse after verse.

What weighed One Foot Out down was the sung hooks by featured singers, most of which were awkwardly performed. Crop Circle is much more raw, opting for rapped hooks that maintain a sense of catchiness. An exception to that is “Rubber Bands” where Ray BLK’s hook impresses and fits the track well. Now that Nines has refined this element of an album, it’s undeniable that he is able to consistently craft catchy trap songs like it’s nothing.

It’s puzzling how Nines’ flow fails to get old; his charisma, punchlines and production are enough to carry 16 tracks into a cohesive project without any skips. His formula is not as tiresome as a MoStack or a Not3s, nor is it as diverse as a Dave. Crop Circle is verification that Nines is somewhere in the middle dominating his sound effortlessly.

Rating: 8.5 / 10

Best tracks: “Trapstar”, “Tony Soprano”, “Line of Fire Pt. 5”, “Rubber Bands”, “Haze”, “Re-Up”