Miami rapper J Nics and Broward beatsmith Numonics waste no time dropping their eight-song EP Champion Rizla hot on the heels of their debut video, "Road to Riches," released just weeks ago. The chemistry in J's molasses-like baritone vocals and Numonics' feel-good electronic soul stylings is apparent from the get-go. Nics does a good job of keeping it light but not too light; his personal subject matter stays honest and straight-forward, and his more street-oriented lyrics are rugged at times but never delve into the realm of fantasy.
And while J showcases his ability to sling wordplay with the best of them, Numonics demonstrates why he's a producer worth paying attention to. Although a handful of tracks on the EP employ the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" method of looping deep soul cuts and soothing vocals, he shows his ability to do more than just dig good samples with intricate drum work and melody rearrangement with skillful chops. Need further proof? Check his other newly released project, Champion Sounds, a 13-minute power mix of various instrumentals guaranteed to spark cypher wherever there's a working speaker.
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What stands out the most to me on this project, though, is its balance of light and dark elements. Numonics' predominantly cheery arrangements all hint at something much more melancholy just below the surface, and Nics' gruff, almost hardcore-style vocals, while boastful, still convey a sense of humbleness and even sound friendly at times. Also worth commending on Champion Rizla is the lack of features. Within the eight EP cuts, we find only two guest spots, one from ShowOff Records artist REKS on "Never Be Free" and another from fellow Miami MC Phresh James on "Time Is Now." In an age when it's more common than not to have more guest appearances than tracks on an album, it's refreshing to see J Nics carry the bulk of vocal responsibilities on his own.