Nickelus F & Shawn Kemp, Trick Dice

Blake Gillespie

Decades deep, Nickelus F is still that dude from Richmond, VA. His work dates back to the early Aughts, formerly known as Nick Fury. In the same way that the Bay Area has Mistah Fab as just that dude who’s always around and can still freestyle his ass off, Richmond’s version is likely Nickelus F. At least that’s the impression felt on his collaborative tape with Shawn Kemp, producer alias of Lil’ Ugly Mane, entitled Trick Dice.

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The strictly sides streams on Bandcamp, complete with simulated skips between “Moonlight” and “Lucid Slowed”, maintains the purity of the tape format. The backstory cites a Nick Fury tape from 2003 as entry, noting his way with words in seemingly simplistic, yet effective punchlines like “he kept the barrel around him like cartoons without pants on”. It would be considered Sean P-esque were it not written pre-transition from Ruck to P. Lines like “it all came together like a fucking herd / oh you heard what? / Fuck what you heard” and “I’m getting bent like a parabola” (hell, the entirety of “Gold Figaro”) prove no lost steps in the style since ’03. But the tape’s ability to absorb regions beyond the Richmond city limits like the Bone Thugs-esque “Da Reaper” offer expansion and lean towards the Lil Ugly Mane influence behind the boards. And behind the boards is where Trick Dice extends beyond the average rap tape. Shawn Kemp’s production ventures through that grimey era of New York rap that saw a nocturnal bent manufactured by the Beatminerz, again with Heltah Skeltah influence, and Shawn J. Period on early Rawkus circa Soundbombing Vol.1.

Now we just need a repress on that cassette.

Stream Trick Dice on Bandcamp.

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