Nicolay has made himself known within hip-hop’s underground for his soulful production style, most celebrated on his collaborations with Phonte Coleman as The Foreign Exchange. On Time:Line, a concept album chronicling an individual’s life from birth to death, it’s Nicolay’s partnership with Kay (of The Foundation) that proves immensely fruitful. Kay’s ability to take the intangible and verbally make it plain for everyday people makes his flow the perfect fit for Nicolay’s pensive arrangements.
Together, the combination is awe-inspiring. “Grand Theft Auto” is a wild ride that leads to a tragic end, paving the way for “When You Die”. From there, it’s a smooth transition to the afterlife on the cleverly titled “Dancing With The Stars”. This is hip-hop that’ll make your mother cry, reaffirming the beauty in a genre that many elders tend to dismiss. While those steeped in the music know that such beauty is possible, it’s always nice to have it quietly validated by albums as exquisite as this one.