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Album Review: Paper Trail$

We take a look at Paper Trail$, the latest Hip-Hop album release by Egypt's own Aly Nabeeh.

Hip-Hop was always traditionally about the struggle that takes place on the streets, not a bunch of motivational mish-mash about improving oneself. The latter however, would be the first impression we got when we heard the first track off of Aly Nabeeh's latest album, Paper Trail$. The importance of starting strong in an album is essential to establishing the theme of the album and setting precedence, which is something we didn't find in the album's first track. Despite the rocky start however, we were pleasantly surprised by the rest of it.

Nabeeh's lyrics suggest that he tends to stick to what he knows. And unlike many rappers, Nabeeh doesn't suffer from an identity crisis. Inspiration is an important tool in writing and producing Hip-Hop, and not necessarily considered as theft or plagiarism. However, in Nabeeh's case, it's safe to say his style belongs to him and isn't borrowed or morphed from different styles. Having said that, that does not excuse some of the lazy lyrics put into these tracks. You can only rhyme the same words so many times, and it doesn't take a Hip-Hop connoisseur to notice this. 

Beat production throughout the album is solid for the most part. Good use of bass helps keep the tracks pumping and energetic, relying on around 140 beats-per-minute (BPM) trap formula. Add to that some melodic synth compositions and you get a catchy tune that takes you well along the track. The most notable feature in the beats is the use of interesting samples from classics, such as The Temptations' Losing You and even an interesting take to Enya's Only Time. It goes to show just how Hip-Hop production has changed in the last decade, and how flexible the genre can be at times.

We were pleasantly surprised when we came across some instrumentals in the album. They were well-produced and entertained the ears with the absence of rap. It's always a good addition to have a few instrumentals present in the album to really appreciate the production value of Hip-Hop records. We were hoping to find an Oriental touch in the tracks, seeing as how Nabeeh hails from Cairo. Producers like Chinese Man, Bonobo, and even some Dubstep artists stumble on amazing samples from Egyptian music, new and old, that work amazingly well with their respective genres.

Overall, though Paper Trail$ doesn't introduce anything daring into the Hip-Hop game, there is a lot of potential displayed by the tracks on the album. It's really the production that saved this album. However, for all Hip-Hop enthusiasts out there, the album is worth checking out as Nabeeh hails from our very own Cairo. You can take a listen to one of the tracks below.

Check out Aly Nabeeh's Paper Trail$ on Soundcloud.


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