Nick Andre reimagines conventional hip-hop through the lens of exotic experimentalism and surreal funk in the all-new single “Turn Back,” which in addition to Andre features such names as Gift of Gab, Lateef The Truth and Eric Boss in the studio as well. “Turn Back” starts off with a colorful percussive pattern that patiently creates an indulgent, atmospheric backdrop for the players to lay their verses over. The vocals aren’t smashed together or compressed into a single juggernaut of sound; they’re layered beside each other, creating this multidimensional depth that is stunning to say the least. The music sways with a relaxed groove, leaning more on the rigid drumming as opposed to the somewhat feathery bass, which refreshingly isn’t so overbearing that it drowns out the intricacies in the vocal tracks. Elements of funk clash with a more straightforward, sublimely robotic framing of the chorus, but the vibe remains airy and light. Andre is a commanding force to be reckoned with in this song, but he isn’t selfish with the mic; if anything, he proves here that he’s just as capable of being a role-player as well as riding front and center.
The rhythm of “Turn Back” is utterly addictive from the onset, wrapping us in a slick groove that relentlessly pummels us with swing. As far as club songs go, this would be considered more on the understated side of the spectrum, but nevertheless I have no doubt in my mind that it could ignite a coveted passion on any hot urban dancefloor with a decent sound system. The subtle nature of this song is, in my opinion, it’s greatest charm; instead of trying to impress us with a lot of overwhelming showmanship and individual verses that end up competing for our attention, these guys make the most of their incredible chemistry and let their radiant cohesiveness do all the dazzling for them. When you’ve got a hook as deliciously streamlined as “Turn Back” has, there’s no need to weigh down the master mix with a lot of cosmetic polish. The smart lyrics and decidedly experimental concept behind the track’s design are enough to make it appealing to both mainstream and independent-minded audiences, which is no easy feat in this age of puritan rap.
Hardcore hip-hop buffs would be very wise to give Nick Andre’s new single a spin this winter. Taking equally from the old school and the new, Andre and his collaborators forge a really seductive tonality here that is both original and somehow as familiar as a vintage Parliament record. “Turn Back” lives up to its name but is careful to avoid the pitfalls of imitation and recreation. There isn’t a recycled beat to be found in this track, and if broken down instrumentally it contains perhaps the most diverse collection of layered grooves to come out of the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose scene in some time. This is hip-hop for a new generation that isn’t content to expand the style through commercial means alone. Nick Andre is the intelligent music fan’s rapper, and “Turn Back” wonderfully captures his unique sound.