In the this day and age of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, undeground artists no longer have to depend solely on college radio and other traditional outlets in order to get their music heard by fans eager to heard something different. Nevertheless, it is imperative that they have larger-than-life personalities and consistently bring original ideas to the table in order to stand out amongst the multitude of up-and-comers. Enter Terrence Scott a/k/a Cool Nutz, the Portland-based rapper and Jus Family affiliate who has steadily repped the pacific northwest to the fullest since 1992.
Widely regarded as “Oregon’s best kept secret,” Nutz is on a quest to bring northwest Hip Hop to the forefront and ultimately bring much-needed exposure to a region brimming with local talent. Armed with an undeniably charming persona, Scott peppers his latest LP, Incredible, with incredibly detailed stories and unwavering honesty, from overcoming the negative ills of society to wrestling with his own personal demons in order to reach a heightened state of conscious creativity. On the majority of the album, the Portland mic-wrecker admirably merges his magnetic persona with the honesty of his message and musical talents, giving more established vocalists a run for their money in the storytelling department. Take “Blacktop”, for instance. Over a catchy beat, Cool joyfully expresses the benefits of having a both an optimistic outlook on life and ambition that knows no bounds. As he deftly states, “Thank you for asking, a nigga doing great.” Another dope track, “Crime Wave,” find Nutz exposing the ins and outs of the drug game, especially its startling effect on the poor black youth. The aforementioned song works well due to the artist’s innate ability to be lyrically illuminating without sounding overly preachy or naive. Last but not least, “Darkness” is a touching and sincere track that finds the veteran waxing poetic about life’s tragedies and the importance of dissolving negative thoughts in the mind before dealing with them in the real world.
The only time the enjoyment of the full-length wavers is when Cool focuses specifically on battling wack rappers who falsify their backgrounds and not living the life they adamantly discuss on wax. Although this ubiquitous topic showcases Scott’s vocal abilities a bit more than what his story-focused rhymes delivers, the need to show skills for the sake of showing off seems a bit unnecessary at this point. For example, on “Everyway,” Nutz takes the low road and aims his ferocious chops at “impostors” who claim to be real emcees but rarely does he add anything that we haven’t heard countless times before. Another faux pas is “Gone Crazy,” where Nutz goes on a verbal rampage and calls out famous celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal, Nas and Jay-Z, but the result does little to capture the brilliant revelry and playful brilliance of 50 Cent‘s “How to Rob”, released back in ’99. Furthermore, on “Incredible”, he furthers the tired argument by explaining why his life is much more real than those who fake the funk could ever imagine. This is all well and good if we weren’t reminded of the Portland emcee’s knack for weaving tales that are honest and entertaining and doesn’t waste time trying to convince the listener the intrinsic value of his lyrical efforts.
It’s strange to say it in the midst of an 18-year career, but Incredible is a nice introduction to many, to the emcee from the Nike state. Cool Nutz’ best songs are vivid tales that deliver rock-solid honesty and introspective lyricism and showcase his infectious charisma on the microphone. However, when Scott does decide to explore his more crazy side, especially when discussing fellow rappers who are not true to the game, Nutz sounds less convincing and not quite as brilliant as his storytelling persona. When it’s all said and done, Portland should be very proud to have Cool Nutz as a pillar of lyrical representation, and those wanting to know what’s good in the upper-left corner ought to listen.