Being a part of Pro Era – the historic Brooklyn collective of modern rap purists, known for birthing the careers of renaissance man Joey Bada$$ and the late Capital Steez – the cucumber-cool Nyck Caution has always brought lyrical creativity to the forefront of a melodic world. Now, after ten years of delivering conscious tongue-twisters for his fans, the 24-year-old finally drops his debut album, ready to divulge into sensitive topics like the passing of his father in 2015. With a slew of masterful mixtapes and EPs – especially with ‘Plain Jane’ producer Kirk Knight on the EP ‘Nyck@Knight’ – his debut ‘Anywhere But Here’ is a thoughtful addition for those who have missed bars and lyricism in this genre.
The 26-year-old flexes his pen going up against some of the best spitters the world has ever seen on this 14-track album; ‘How You Live It’ with the CEO of Pro Era Records, Joey Bada$$ a perfect example being a perfect example. The latter is known as a guy for modern-day rap purism, notorious for out-rapping whoever he collaborates with. However, “proceeding with caution”, Nyck rebuts with flows and bars to complement his collaborator, yet different enough to keep a hold of his own track. In hip-hop, to prove you are the best, you have to rap alongside the best, and on the soothing sombre song — during which the two flaunt their braggadocio with a hardened demeanour — ‘How You Live’ is one to savour if you’re a real rap connoisseur.
All the tracks on ‘Anywhere But Here’ are relatively short compared to your typical lyrical album, reflecting rap’s ever shortening attention span. This doesn’t ruin Caution’s musicality but, instead, has concentrated rap’s purist roots of hardcore storytelling — mixed with a bit of today’s rebellion — into digestible songs that all fans could appreciate. See ‘Bad Day’ with Florida’s exuberant mascot Denzel Curry, whilst going back and forth over the distorted sound of the South, Curry and Caution prove that, for modern sounding hits, lyricism doesn’t need to be forfeited. The contrast of Caution’s typically charismatic vocals to Curry’s signature gruff makes ‘Bad Day’ a knockout that excites after a few plight-heavy tunes, and one for purists and trap fans alike.
On highlight ‘Motion Sickness’ – showing off this singing voice that is smooth and dreamy – Caution’s new approach to telling his tales with jazzier R&B beats is a triumph. Able to mixed his ability to craft relatable lines (“Sad to say it but the Motion has a movement of its own / I don’t wanna tell these short-term people all my long term goals”), the harmonies on the chorus exude charm that couldn’t be replicated easily by today’s elites.
‘Anywhere But Here’ makes the ten-year wait for Nyck Caution’s one worth experiencing – his simplistic approach to creating zingy one-liners and matter-of-fact statements talk to the listener as well as himself. Showing off his vulnerability (something Pro Era members have always excelled at), Nyck Caution has poured a whole lot of soul into this album that shouldn’t be overlooked because it’s not today’s pop trap, but celebrated because it’s a honest record — and honesty seems like a rarity these days.