Editors' Notes “When you hear the music, I think the title explains itself,” Nines tells Apple Music of his third album Crabs in a Bucket. “I just felt like when I look back on recent situations I had, they all made me feel that way.” An artist who has always depicted the transition from life on the road (2015 mixtape One Foot In) to being a high-profile rapper and entrepreneur (2017’s One Foot Out), his absence from the forefront of the music scene since his acclaimed 2018 album Crop Circle has brought around a slew of online rumours, as well as heightened anticipation for his next release. On Crabs in a Bucket, Nines—born Courtney Freckleton—explains where he’s been, exploring the impact of his stabbing in the summer of 2019, during a time when he was also supporting his father through cancer. The incident left the North-West Londoner requiring surgery and a recovery period abroad—time away that allowed him to find solace, and regain a passion for music. All of which ignited his ambition to put together his most polished work yet. “I was in different countries—Spain, Paris, Dubai—when I was making this album. That’s why it took a bit of time. I would go sometimes three months without recording. But you know what they say: When you’re uninspired, the best thing is to do other things.” Over 52 minutes, and with guest spots from Nafe Smallz, NSG and Headie One to name a few, Nines relights his fire by doubling down on witty rap references, big-time boasts and smooth trap talk. Elsewhere, he hones his storytelling prowess—and allows himself the room to be more introspective than ever (see “Intro” and “NIC” especially). Walk with Nines as he breaks down Crabs in a Bucket, one track at a time.

Intro
“I didn’t intend for this to be the intro to the album, but everyone I’ve played the album to said this was the one. Normally you hear me get busy with the trap talk, the flavours, just popping that fly shit, but I went deeper and addressed a lot. It set the tone for the album; when the fans ask ‘Where has Nines been?’ you can listen to this and connect the dots. When I made this, I was bored on a plane. I’ve been flying a lot in the last year and I’ve been going through beats on YouTube. I heard this beat on there by an American producer, and once I played it, I had to track him down. At the end that’s me chatting to [UK producer] Quincy. I poured out my pain and just let it flow.”

Energy (feat. Skrapz)
“This was produced by Beatfreakz. I made it when I was driving around in my car—it just sounds like one of those tracks you can cruise to. I phoned up Skrapz and told him that I’ve got some fire that I need him on; that’s family so it was really that simple.”

Clout
“I consider ‘Airplane Mode’ to be the lead single, but it came out after ‘Clout’. This wasn’t even meant to be a single. When I was playing tracks to the young guns, they said this was the one. My guy 1st Born produced this. You already know what I’m about when I make a song, you hear the wordplay—I can’t call really call it bragging, because I live it. The inspiration for the video was just some of the albums that have influenced me when I was growing up. When I get an idea, my guy [director] Charlie Di Placido helps me bring it to life. We directed the video together and I feel like we did it justice.”

Realist (feat. Nafe Smallz and Fundz)
“Come on, man, this one was inevitable! Nafe has been family for a minute, so it was only right that we linked up properly on a track. On One Foot In, he was only on a bonus track, but this time we just had to make it happen for real. On this song I kinda stepped into his world with the instrumental. We were at a coffee shop in Amsterdam and the guy who owns the shop has a studio in there, so Quincy hit me up and was like, ‘Yo, I’ve got something that was made for you,’ and we just took it from there. Quincy is family as well, I’ve been fucking with him for a while now. This was one of the most organic sessions I had for the album.”

Monster
“1st Born produced this also. He’s got a few joints on here. He laced me with this eerie-sounding beat so it was easy to get into that mindset when I was recording. ‘I swear these streets turned me to a monster, I swear these streets turned me to a—’ This track explains itself, you know what I come from already. I was in Dubai when I made this.”

Airplane Mode (feat. NSG)
“Shout out KZ and Rudimental. When I was making the album, I was thinking about the clubs for real, and I wanted a club song. Before COVID stopped everything, I would hit the clubs and DJs would play [Nines’ 2017 track] ‘Trapper of the Year’. I know they wouldn’t play that if I wasn’t here. It’s homage, but it’s not a club song, you get me? So I feel like I needed an ‘Airplane Mode’ on the album. I fuck with NSG, I reached out to them, invited them to the studio, and the rest was history. We all played PlayStation, blew trees, it was a good time! We actually made three songs in that session, but ‘Airplane Mode’ was the one for me because I had my eye on the commercial side.”

NIC (feat. Tiggs Da Author)
“Tiggs has been on all of my studio albums, he’s a natural with it. Whenever I say I’m working on an album, he’ll always come around like, ‘I’ve got something for your album, bro.’ [Producer] Show N Prove is the same too. He’s actually produced all the songs that me and Tiggs have done together. When I heard the beat, I already knew I wanted to go into story mode. It has that vintage feel to it. Some of my inspiration comes from how 50 Cent, Hov and those guys used to tell stories. I feel like you can hear it here, just the come-up story from my school days. That influence is why there's three verses. I felt like it was too long, but when I play it to people, they would beg me not to cut it to two.”

Don’t Change (feat. Northsidebenji)
“This is definitely one for the ladies, so I had to get [Canadian rapper] Benji on here. Carlos produced this one–he’s my go-to engineer, but he’s been getting in his bag lately with production. He’ll chop up samples for me that I’ll take to him. Here it was the ‘Don’t Change’ sample that I wanted someone to sing over. I hit up Benji and he laid his melodies and done his thing on it. I really enjoy helping to develop artists. Looking after other artists as the head of an imprint when you’re an artist as well is tricky; your natural instinct is to protect your own interests. With Benji, I co-manage him and I wanted to help him out.”

Lights (feat. Louis Rei)
“Again, that is me and Carlos in collab mode. I would say we both produced it, but it’s more him because he chopped the sample. Shout out to the boy Louis, man, people always try to take him out of the rapper conversation because he’s the vibes guy. But even when Akelle went away, he stepped up and held it down for WSTRN. People act like LB is not the guy, but it was good to get a joint with him where we’re both rapping nice.”

Money Ain’t a Thing (feat. Roy Woods)
“I think this one was worked on by three different producers: Quincy, Steel Banglez and my guy Sean. Shout out to my OVO family Roy Woods, he’s good peoples. He wanted to be on the hook rather than drop a verse, and he came through with that. Since before I signed the deal, I could say money weren’t a thing. Could’ve been in Top Boy but I turned it down. Come on: Crop Circle, baby! It would have been a good look but off-brand given the fact I’m doing my own thing with Crop Circle.”

Ringaling (feat. Headie One and Odeal)
“Headie has been one of my favourites for a while now. Headie and K-Trap go in on drill. And M1llionz is trying to run away with it right now, too. He’s been on a good run, but those three are killing it. The Elements and Steel Banglez co-produced ‘Ringaling’—it doesn’t sound like any song I’ve done before. Again, this track was done with an eye on the club. You can’t be playing ‘Trapper of the Year’ in the clubs, we all know what that is. You thought that ‘Don’t Change’ was the girl song, but this is it for me. I talk about the love I have for bae, but I let her know that I gotta leave her when the money calls!”

Flavours
“You know I’ve been the tree guy from early, from the beginning, so I had to make a weed song. My favourite strains right now are Skittles, or Biscotti—that’s that good Cali right there. Billy Kimber as well—all the others don’t compare. We only keep exotic flavours around here, bro!”

Flex (feat. Northsidebenji and REID B2WN)
“This was produced by my guy, the young Nav Michael, who produced Drake’s ‘Back to Back’. He’s the same as Show N Prove with me—when I’m trying to make an album he’ll always come through with something for me. Benji wrapped up his part effortlessly and I tried to match his energy with a smooth flow and flex a little.”

Stalker Interlude (feat. Cherrie)
“True stories: I really had stalkers following me at one point—ringing my phone, showing up at random shows. One time we were in Croatia for a festival and this girl showed up there and hit me up. Cherrie is a Swedish singer that I met through a mutual friend. She came through to the studio and I played her a few beats and she took to this one the most. When I was writing this one, I was influenced by my Fire in the Booth and also JAY-Z’s ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’.”

Movie Knights
“I had to hop on a hometown beat, so I hollered at my guy MK, a young producer from the ends. The reason for this is because when I go to my studio I see all the plaques I have, but the studio in ends doesn’t have a single plaque in there. So hopefully we get a plaque for this one. You know I’m about my films—throughout the song you hear me reference some of my favourites. Funnily enough, I was with Leon [Palmer, the creative behind the Movie Knights brand] in the studio when I made that and had some fun with it. Leon is a cool guy. I’ll never forget when he came to the ends on his ones just to meet me. I thought he was mad! But we’re alike—we see something we want and go for it.”

All Stars 2 (feat. Clavish, Frosty, Q2T and Chappo CSB)
“I had to show the young Gs some love on the album, let them get their shine on. Clavish picked the beat, and I don’t usually rap on beats at this tempo, but that’s what the youngers were doing. We done our thing, and I’m not dissing the song… I just wish Clavish picked a different beat.”

Outro
“Just like the intro, this one came from the heart. I rapped from the heart and poured my pain over the beat. By the time you get to the end of the album, what I want people—especially the youngers—to take from this is that you can be in the hood, and born into it, but do see other things in life. I’m not saying leave the hood, but there’s levels to life. I was turning down festivals and not doing shows so I can stand around in the hood—that doesn’t make any sense. Start thinking about the long game, you have to.”

SONG
Intro
1
2:26
 
Energy (feat. Skrapz)
2
3:15
 
Clout
3
2:35
 
Realist (feat. Nafe Smallz and Fundz)
4
2:41
 
Monster
5
2:44
 
Airplane Mode (feat. NSG)
6
3:57
 
NIC (feat. Tiggs Da Author)
7
3:40
 
Don’t Change (feat. NorthSideBenji)
8
2:50
 
Lights (feat. Louis Rei)
9
2:23
 
Money Ain’t a Thing (feat. Roy Woods)
10
3:18
 
Ringaling (feat. Headie One and Odeal)
11
2:50
 
Flavours
12
3:01
 
Flex (feat. NorthSideBenji and REID B2WN)
13
3:14
 
Stalker Interlude (feat. Cherrie)
14
3:07
 
Movie Knights
15
2:57
 
All Stars 2 (feat. Clavish, Frosty, Q2T and Chappo CSB)
16
4:10
 
Outro
17
3:10
 

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