In “Scary Slope,” the latest and perhaps most focused single longtime fans have heard from east coast up and comer Slick Naim, thoughtful poetry is merged with a cosmopolitan swing, crunchy bassline, and lightly-overdriven synthetics to make a track that is as much a product of experimental dancehall as it is new school progressive hip-hop. Slick gets right to the point with us here, hiding nothing in his surreal analyses of the dream he’s describing in such vivid detail with these lyrics, and though it’s a bit more involved a listen than some of the hip-hop I’ve been into this year, it’s a worthwhile spin for legit aficionados just the same.
The lyrics aren’t the only filler-free component of “Scary Slope;” in fact, they’re not even the most cut-and-dry element of the song. The percussion, the glaring melodies that despite being fairly withdrawn manage to start and end the track, and the circling bassline are all as unfanciful as they can get without sounding too raw for mass consumption, and though I’m not completely sure how he did it, they blend into a cohesive wall of sound when under the command of Slick’s sensitive lead vocal. To put it simply, a lot is going on here and yet everything flows without any complications.
It’s not a challenge that most artists can face in a mid-career release, but the odds didn’t stop Slick Naim from developing a truly organic melodicism to the backside of this track that you just don’t hear that often in hip-hop anymore. There’s no noise attached to the bass, and better yet, the textures in the synth parts sound fresh and the polar opposite of what we’d hear in a plasticized pop song. He must have pored over the soundboard for the better part of his recording sessions, but his efforts are proven well worth it whenever this hook gives us an affectionate slap.
I could’ve gone for just a dash less treble in the chorus of “Scary Slope,” but I admit the reasoning behind the formula that Slick used in this instance is as solid as stone. I’ve always preferred a heavier tonality to my hip-hop, but by going with a scooped sound here, it gives the instrumentation a better-defined muscle that is normally only heard in hard rock records exclusively. It’s different, and while it’s not different enough to raise every eyebrow within the bulk of American audiences this summer, it sits outside the mainstream channels with a prideful independent edge.
It will be very interesting to see how listeners outside of the east coast underground respond to “Scary Slope” and the future works of Slick Naim, because if it’s anything like the reaction out of his home turf, calls for a national tour are going to be difficult for him to ignore. Right now, he’s taking but a few steps in a journey that could bring him from one side of the globe to the other in the years to come, teasing a toned musical ability that will only get better with experience.