Philadelphia producer Cimer Amor has amassed production credits for Sabac Red, King Syze, and Doap Nixon but remains a relative unknown going into his 2010 Coalmine Records debut “Taking Nowhere, Somewhere.” Featuring mostly underground Philly rappers as well as a few more familiar names such as Sha Stimuli and Torae, Cimer is out to prove he can hang with the East Coast’s top underground beatsmiths.
Cimer Amor reminds me most of Marco Polo. His rugged beats are a bit nostalgic and despite their street-readiness are marked by clean orchestration and polish. His menacing, heavy beats are technically excellent, well balanced and hard-hitting with a familiar, distinctly East Coast style that would not sound out of place in Brooklyn, Queensbridge, or Boston. His rough percussion arrangements lend each of his tracks a grimy quality in spite of the fresh instrumentals, and he shows many gifts of a seasoned proâ€”the expertly-balanced fuzzy guitars of “I Hate,” the Beatminerz-esque pipe kicks on “Cold Cold World,” and the dark swirling violins of “Only the Best” that make clear why the members of A.O.T.P. have sought his services. One of the best attributes he displays on “Taking Nowhere, Somewhere” is his ability to form chemistry with his rapping collaborators, and he seems to know exactly what type of beat will bring out the best in each MC. King Magnetic and Sha Stimuli shine over the frenetic horn fanfare of “What It Is,” while Equinox and Poynt Blanc are blessed with Cimer’s best track “Tremble,” a chilling chipmunk soul number laced with raucous battle drums, eerie vocals, and uneasy horn blasts for a running crime narrative. “Insomnia” sounds like a lost Mobb Deep track, as Cimer evokes the Alchemist with a breezy strings arrangement and rapper Product does a damn good Prodigy impression.
The rappers featured on “Taking Nowhere, Somewhere” offer little worth writing home about, and they all sound almost exactly the same. While most bring energy and aggression to the mic, their raps are very mixtape-level and offer little in the way of introspection, concepts, storytelling, and even punchlines. Faez One’s yawn-inducing braggadocio on “All Good” wastes a solid beat, and on posse cuts such as “Danger” the lack of cohesion and common subject matter makes the verses seem disjointed. For better or worse these are straightforward street rhymes, and the unimaginative hooks do little to help their case. All of the rappers have good flows, deliveries, and charisma, so I get the sense that they’re all decent MCs who for whatever reason didn’t bring their collective A-game.
Cimer Amor is very good at what he does, but given his obvious talent what he does is fairly ordinary and isn’t ambitious enough. I get the feeling that he plays it safe throughout “Taking Nowhere, Somewhere,” too content to craft unobtrusive, uncontroversial, repetitive beats from an already established and accepted template. While they’re all dead-on representations, most of his songs sound like emulations of other well-known producers, be it Marco Polo, Alchemist, Swizz Beatz, or any of the A.O.T.P. and D-Block producers. He constantly impresses as a musically deft producerâ€”his timing, spacing, and layering are impeccableâ€”but the material here casts him as a wholly derivative one-trick pony.
“Taking Nowhere, Somewhere” is a dope enough mix, but it has the capacity to turn into background music and after it’s done playing very little sticks. Since the tempo never varies and the percussion and overall mood never waver, most of the tracks run together and barely anything stands out as memorable. Cimer Amor is blatantly skilled, but he seems to have typecast himself, and I hope on future outings he’ll take a few more chances, try on a few different sounds and speeds, and reach out to a wider range of rappers. If he can disregard his narrow notions of what he thinks he should sound like, or what he thinks others think he should sound like, I think he would impress a lot of people, perhaps even himself.