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Subtropical Spin

It's Nice 2 Be Rich

(Self-released)

On his second self-released full-length, West Palm Beach rapper/producer Rich Nice strings together a solid collection of rugged, street-level sketches on the eternal hip-hop hustle. Nice has a clipped, well-measured flow that lurches out of the gate a little woodenly, but by midway through the album it melts into dusty, soul-drenched production and mid-tempo beats. Tracks like "Top of the Top" and "Conception" bristle with an almost Wulike sense of foreboding, speaking with minimalist beats and bleak tales of urban strife.

On the other end of the spectrum, like a sunny, '70s soul standard, "Street Artist" bounces along buxom horn samples, a funk-fueled bass line, and a mellow organ riff. Showing no hesitation and a brash confidence, Nice proclaims, "I'm a street artist/Gotta deal with the payment/No more enslavement/For your entertainment." "Best I Can" and "Problems" stay upbeat, sampling P-Funk and James Brown for a slow-rolling G-funk sound. These aren't glossed-over dreams but first-person realizations that balance gold-lined goals with grassroots reality. Mining consistent positivity from everyday hardships isn't easy, but the best artists find the beauty in the struggle. Rich Nice is well on his way.