Our Western European counterparts of England have made leaps and bounds in the hip-hop scene in recent years and have continued to be on the rise with acclaimed releases from The Streets, Dizzee Rascal and Lady Sovereign. Whether you know it or not, one of the emcees that have been part of the scene for awhile now goes by the name of Nomadic Poet. Now, on “Travellers Tale”, his music spreads like his namesake for a domestic release. Does the Nomadic Poet have enough gusto for a North American audience to take a listen?
Take one part Kardinal Offishall and a pinch of Wu-tang and you will have a good idea of how the Nomadic Poet sounds on the mic. In fact, the light reggae tinge is something that he has strayed a bit from on this album as compared to work as the frontman he did with a group called The Planets. Despite hailing from the Thoro Borough (North West London), his sources of inspiration seem to clearly come from the golden era of East Coast (North American) rap. This actually works quite favorably for Nomadic Poet, because his style plays to our ethnocentric culture.
“Thoro Borough” is an unspectacular, but fitting introductory track to “A Travellers Tale”. It is one of those hometown shout-out tracks that “gives a slice where I (Nomadic Poet) come from.” The problem lies in the fact that the distinction between where he comes from and where I come from cannot easily be discerned from the lyrics that he lays down on the track. Surely, there must be enlightening things that he could point out to get a better idea of his life. “My Life” is a latter track that is told in storytelling fashion that completely meets these expectations that express Poet as an individual with more satisfying results.
As the album unfolds it becomes clear that “A Travellers Tale” is a consistently decent album, but nothing really shows a shining ability, nor does anything fall completely flat. The good and the bad are most obvious on tracks 3 and 4. “Its On”, track 3, has a notable high-pitched piano key that kicks into the snappy drum pattern nicely. There is also a nice funky vocal sample that rides in the background during the chorus. Meanwhile, on “Sociology”, Nomadic misses on a track that aims to be intellectually deep, because of a contrived chorus that seems forced over a poor man’s Rick Rubin-esqe distorted guitar beat:
“Black, White Purple, whatever it’s all the same
Only thing different that stay are peoples brains
Hate towards another, those things gotta change
Sociology, a study of how humans behave!”
The notion of the song is admirable as one would likely conclude when reading the bars, but the way that the song slows down and the beat changes to fit the structure of the chorus is ackward and detracts from the cut.
Though most features are some of the best on the album, like “The Message” that reunites Nomadic with his brethren from The Planets (of whom he outshines), “Nothing Matters” ft. Hasan Salaam and “Stand Up” with Granddaddy I.U, the real miss on the LP is one that recruits the help of a almost always reliable Killah Priest on “The Struggle”. “The Struggle” has an ominous beat that is too plodding for someone with the lyrical prowess of Killah. Therein lies the problem on a “Travellers Tale” as a whole–pieces that should fit together just do not seem to mesh properly at times.
“A Travellers Tale” is by no means a throwaway album. The featured artist has characteristics that work in his favor, those being that his accent is not distracting as undoubtedly one could see RZA make him guest star on one of his many side projects and his style also plays to the fans of New York based hip-hop. Unfortunately, with a lack of standout tracks this album will be forgotten by most that hear it, sort of like some old traveler’s tale.