The Main Bird

The Main Bird

In 2022, NoCap reached the career landmark he had been working toward since his early singles. His debut studio album, Mr. Crawford, arrived in April, winning acclaim with fans and critics and cracking the Top 10 on the album charts. With its title and sundry references citing Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, the project showed ambition similar to those artists, adopting a wider scope of musical modes and subject matter with some stylistic gestures toward pop. NoCap put a period on his banner year in December by dropping a seven-track EP, The Main Bird, a less triumphant and more inward-looking affair. It feels as heavy and chilly in terms of mood and sonics as anything he has released, while retaining the lyrical power and tonal control that set him apart in the Southern trap landscape. His voice drenched in tremulous Auto-Tune, Cap’s verses and hooks are streaked with anger and grief. Opener “Rich and Dangerous” sets the tone. The sorrowful trap piano ballad derives its power from brief melodic apexes, with emotional culminations in verses that pay tribute to lost friends and family members. Elsewhere the picture grows hazy, with the rapper crooning debauched rhymes enveloped in a sheen of syrupy synth ambience on “Ain’t Right” and “How It’s Going.” Amid all the gloom, The Main Bird is littered with lightly funky flourishes, deprioritizing the acoustic-sounding trappings for which NoCap had become known on earlier releases like his 2019 mixtape The Hood Dictionary. On the probing EP standout “Standing on Lies,” the palette is warmed by chicken-scratch electric guitar and warm Rhodes chording. Elements like the bright, punctuated low end on “Tight End” impart some playfulness to a mixtape that often feels bleak in atmosphere. Closing track “No Other Way” finds NoCap swatting away haters and inhabiting his comfort zone of acoustic-guitar-driven fast trap beats. His flow comes alive, switching speeds and emphases amid juggling melodic motifs. It’s a reminder of the fundamentals on which his constantly evolving, always-engaging style is built.

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