Rhythm can tell us a story all on its own, even without the addition of an expressive melodic or linguistic component, and in the new single “You Can’t Talk As Much Shit As Me,” we discover it doing just as much of the heavy lifting as rapper Nick Hawk is with his verses. In order to make the emotion of the instrumentation match up with the sentiments of his poetry, Hawk is willing to do whatever it takes in this performance, with his devotion to the medium winding up feeling like just as significant a take-away from this piece as the substance of the narrative itself.
We never catch Hawk utilizing his vocal as the sole tone-setter in this piece; on the contrary, it’s responsible for contextualizing the mood set forth by both the beat and the minimalistic melodicism in the backdrop. There’s not as much of an emphasis placed on contrast in this piece as there is a fluidity between the instrumental elements and the rigid stylization of the master mix (which isn’t a common combination found in this genre or anywhere across western pop right now), and it’s noticeable enough to make “You Can’t Talk As Much Shit As Me” immediately distinguishable from similarly raucous rap songs out right now.
Watch the video for “You Can’t Talk As Much Shit As Me”
You can’t go wrong with a clean mix like this one, and though there’s plenty of value in employing collage-inspired techniques when it comes to crafting original trap and hip-hop elsewhere in the game, that doesn’t make this presentation any less appropriate for the type of material Hawk is producing. Everything, from the percussion to the vocal and back to the foundational bassline laying the groundwork beneath it all, has a meticulously crafted place in this arrangement, demonstrating both the player’s attention to detail as well as his vast command of musicianship in general.
When I first sat down with this single and its music video, it was instantly clear to me just how much Nick Hawk has developed in the last few years – notably in the way he’s exploiting his duality as a poet. There’s a multilayered feel to the way he’s unfolding things for us in these verses that just wasn’t present in a lot of his previous work, and if you ask me it’s telling of the trajectory he’s on moving ahead. He doesn’t strike me as sounding close to an end of his campaign, but instead like someone ready to break away from one chapter and ascend to the next.
Nick Hawk has been around for over a decade, but in “You Can’t Talk As Much Shit As Me,” he’s sounding fresher than he ever has before. It’s absolutely true that with experience comes a better handle on who you are and what you’re doing, and if ever this was exhibited properly in a contemporary hip-hop track, this is most definitely it. I hope I have the chance to see Hawk performing this live sometime in the future, and my gut tells me that when he does break it out on-stage it’s going to become an instant crowd-pleaser.