No Excuses

By all indications, Nance has a great story to tell. He’s been on the independent rapper grind for years, ticking off the boxes that help lay the foundation for a long-term career.

He’s played major music festivals, opened for big artists, curates his own shows to great success, and executed a Kickstarter campaign that earned him over $10,000 last year. And most important, he can rap very well. All of the pieces seem to be in position for Nance to make a move for the next level, and on his new record, No Excuses, Nance sounds like he has his sights set on making that happen.

Everything about the album is industry standard. The production is crisp, and engineered to the level of anything you’d hear from a major-label artistthat Kickstarter money went to good use, it seems. But somehow, Nance never quite hits his sweet spot. The production often feels too clean and safe.

At other times, however, the project is a bit overproduced. “Mentions,” for example, trails off into a Tiesto-esque electronic bridge that’s structurally sound, but it’s a little too over-the-top and sounds engineered for Top 40 radio. This same lack of creativity hits especially hard on “Caffeinated,” a high-energy, beat-driven song that sounds fit for Kendrick Lamar-style fire. But instead Nance raps about drinking coffeeand not in a metaphorical context to illustrate his energy level. It’s literally about drinking coffee.

At the end of No Excuses, it’s clear that Nance is a good rapper, but his songwriting does little to give a proper introduction to the who, what, and why of Nance.