Space Discovery: Jimmy Burnett
Welcome to our new Space Discovery!
Canadian rapper and producer Jimmy Burnett talks being better in his latest lo-fi hip-hop EP More Mr Nice Guy, an ensemble of riveting songs that blur hip-hop’s sonic and emotional boundaries. This EP entered my top 5.
You know that feeling when you listen to a song and it’s so catchy you just can’t stop bouncing to it, but the production is so good and “varied” that it doesn’t get stuck in your mind so much so you end up hating it? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about here.
In contrast to Alice Coopers’s “No More Mr Nice Guy” and the many that followed, Jimmy Burnett takes a cliché and reverts it in a series of captivating beats and conscious lyrics on striving to be a better person. These melodies not only put the listener in a mood for personal growth and evolution, but they also show a great artistic personality and sonic mastery by Burnett.
His flow effortlessly glides across the synths, piano and drums, and he likes to play a lot with the titles of the tracks and the words in each of them. If Rejjie Snow and André 3000 collaborated, they’d probably make something of the sort.
The EP opens with sHoRtLeAsH, a chill-out, nostalgic beat with a lo-fi bassline, mainly made of drums, a slightly distorted piano and dreamy synths. Initially a muffled voice raps over the beat, to then become clear halfway through, after a beautiful piano riff. This is a great opening to the album, which already encapsulates the essence of the whole work.
The first track is followed by LiFeSuPpOrT, which starts with an energetic rap chorus, hissing hi-hats and a recurring synth that marks the time on the beat. This is the beep of a life support system, which melts so well with the rest of the elements and doesn’t sound any different than a classic lo-fi synth, if it wasn’t for the fact that, in this case, we’re made aware that it’s a hospital machinery sound by the lyrics and title itself.
HaRdToBeHaPpY is a melancholic track with a percussive beat, otherworldly synths and great rap bars delivered in a tsunami of words, which tell the story of the struggle to be happy while feeling a burning desire for happiness. Gloomy but gorgeous.
Then comes MaY, my favourite. With May being one of the best times of the year probably everywhere on earth, I believe this track gracefully expresses the emotions this month can make you feel: sense of rebirth, jolliness, tranquillity. The sunny beat with a piano instrumental is enriched by the organic sounds of birds chirping, which seem to be then emulated and reproduced in the electronic sounds of the scratchy vinyl. It makes me happy that we share the month of May, can’t wait to listen to this song on those bright days!
WaYtOoMuCh has more of an R&B vibe to it, with a voluptuous percussive beat and vocalising in the background. Here Burnett best shows his skills in playing with words and sounds, and it just makes you want this EP to never stop.
But then, to conclude, TrEaDwAtEr opens with a typical lo-fi distorted and reverbed beat, and it goes on with a trance-like quality in its bassline and chimes, contrasted by the crisp and clear rap bars Jimmy Burnett delivers on top.
This record’s production is not only technically great but thrilling, made to nicely stick in your mind without ever becoming something you’ve already heard. Jimmy Burnett is a skilled rapper, and both the sounds and lyrics of this EP are so elevating that you too will start thinking about being better than what you already are. The lo-fi raw quality of the sound of this work reminds us of our vulnerability and makes More Mr Nice Guy a relatable EP, while also being an energetic boost with many hints of hip-hop and R&B and its empowering lyrics. After listening to this, we definitely want more Mr Nice Guy Jimmy Burnett.