They are Kaimbr and Sean Born, two hip-hop artists who’ve come together like Voltron under the name “Nino Green”. Mind you, “Nino Green 2” is their sophomore album and has an unmistakable sound to both the lyrics and the music. That’s not to say that Nino Green sounds like anyone in particular, it’s just that the grime in both their cadence and delivery, the sample-based production, and the album’s topic (the urban criminal life, mostly) had me thinking they were from New York. Much to my surprise, they’re fellow Chesapeake State natives from straight out of Prince George’s County, Maryland (the richest Black county in America). Both Kaimbr and Sean have an eye for detail, and they incorporate that in their narratives, though the topics of said lyrical narratives are rarely strayed from.

To be fair, my home state doesn’t have its own sound. The state of Maryland is east coast, yet right below the Mason-Dixon line which technically makes it a southern state (which a case can be made for given our oft-times half-assed southern accents). The point being is that Maryland hip-hop tends to be an amalgam of different regions and genres of hip-hop, though often with producers being partial 808 trap productions. But not Nino Green, the duo takes a sample-heavy approach to their production (done by Sean Born) which matches the cinematic lyrics. Starting with “Meet Me By The Shrimp Boat”, it’s an interlude intro spelling out the specifics of an illicit meeting which appears to take place in “On The Level”, the first official song and filled with street talk. “1000 Baggies”, featuring Judah, is better. The production is tight, samples woodwind instruments, and includes boom-bap drum pattern/sound. Sean tellingly raps, “I be playing with my life, niggas scared to die.”

The album contains several interludes. “Interlude 3 – ECSB” and “Interlude 6 – Between Floors” are strictly instrumentals while “Follow Us” is comprised of a movie dialogue sample. Back to the songs: “Kyrie” spins a yarn about staying one step ahead in the streets. “Amy” is a lurid tale about sex with multiple partners, while the production is built from a vintage sample resulting in chipmunk soul vocals. The single, “Stop Playing With Me” features Nathaniel Star on the hook and has well-chosen R&B sample for the beat. Throughout the album, there’s a female voice in the background interpolating lines from the 1991 feature film “New Jack City”, the antagonist of which is from whom the duo derives their name. “Big Dimes” has a certain ambiguity to the lyrics: The term can refer to women, or paraphernalia in their crib that law enforcement won’t find. “Aye Nino!” is built from a slow-paced sample, and Sean Born’s verse stands out. Granted, he doesn’t veer away from the usual topics, but he goes in on the beat effortlessly.

Lastly, “Do It” (featuring RoddyRod & Choppy-Chop-E Sounds) is braggadocious rhymes, but with the caveat of backing up their gumption; and “Bronze Dons” is an internal rhymefest over a head-nodding beat. Kaimbr and Sean Born’s press release for “Nino Green 2” hypes them up as though they have an influence on hip-hop on par with N.W.A. or Rakim. They’re nowhere near that level and haven’t been around as a duo long enough to claim that they’ve made a dent in the culture. “Nino Green 2” has several good tracks, despite the filler and monotony. The more Nino Green moves away from that and topically expands, the more the impact will be felt.


Nino Green :: Nino Green 2
6.5Overall Score