Some rappers burst on to the scene in a flash of brilliance, then slowly get worse and worse until they release nothing but smoldering piles of shit. Virginia native, Sweet Petey aka Nickelus F aka Nick Fury is not one of these rappers. Sweet Petey gained relevance in 2000 at age 17 when he was named unsigned hype by The Source. In 2007 his mystique grew after winning 106 & Park’s Freestyle Fridays for seven straight weeks (too many funny things to mention here: battles for a sidekick, Melo’s wife hosting, Inkredible getting DQ’ed for saying nigga). Somehow this clear display of talent and lyrical prowess did not translate into a shot at the mainstage and since then, Sweet Petey has been left to toil away in the underground.
Let’s be clear though: his current status as a relatively unknown artist is not indicative of his drive or skill; since 2000, Nickelus has released 19 projects. His most recent project Vices is one of the best mixtapes I have heard in a long time. He uses a variety of flows to display his mastery of rhythmic linguistics over an eclectic and intriguing collection of self-produced beats, illustrating a vivid image of his biggest vices.
Take “GotDamnMurdah!” for example. The foundation of this song, the handcrafted instrumental, is fire. Petey uses very few sounds and layers to create a sparsely populated soundscape, but the sounds he does pick fit together phenomenally. When the last time you heard a beat centered around a harp riff? Throw in some tambourines and some acoustic drums, and you have a smooth track to ride to.
His bars on the track are equally smooth. He commands the English language with ease, glossing over his love for America, weed, women and fame with slick metaphors, as well as blunt truths. As nice as his wordplay is, the most unique part of his music is his voice and flow. It’s like he has an extremely clogged nasal cavity, and although that sounds like a bad thing, he somehow uses it to his advantage. Paired with his laidback flow, his lyrics are able to capture your ear and carry your interest from track to track.
While each song excels on an individual level, they shine more as a collective unit. The tape as a whole is very easy to listen to; the tracks slide in an out of each other, weaving a distinctive quilt of Petey’s take on many different regional rap styles. While the tape as a whole has a definite southern vibe (e.g. the UGK sample on ‘My Convo’ and the trunk-rattling ‘Some Shit’), there are tangible influences from every rap subgenre. Look no further than ‘Number 15’. He taps Drake, his homie from way back (‘A.M. 2 P.M.’, ‘A Scorpio’s Mind’), and together they massacre a Jake One beat. Just like old times, he goes bar for bar with Drake and pushes Champagne Papi to spit one of the realest verses he’s had in a minute. Props to you Nickelus F – you recaptured a little bit of that Old Drake magic and the music game is better because of it.
If you take away one thing from this article let it be this: YOU NEED TO DOWNLOAD THIS TAPE. It is one of the most captivating tapes of recent memory from an underground artist who has been grinding for a minute now and it’s fire from front to back. If you need more convincing check out ‘Some Shit’, ‘My Convo’, ‘A Bird’ and ‘Jet Fuel’.