The Nigerian-born JTK’s new single “No Be Mouth (feat. Tunji)”
The world of hip-hop has never looked or sounded as diverse as it does today. From the electronica-influenced dance beats of an emergent trip-hop scene to the surreal, neo-psychedelic sounds of a postmodern pop/rap crossover genre growing out of the west coast underground, hip-hop is embracing the strange like never before in 2020, leading to the advent of intriguing young players like Canada’s JTK. The Nigerian-born JTK’s new single “No Be Mouth (feat. Tunji)” challenges the aesthetical parameters of trap music and post-third wave rap with a stylish brand of noir-like verses, and from my perspective, it’s one of the better dispatches out right now.
JTK’s vocal is always the centerpiece in “No Be Mouth,” but this isn’t because the instrumentation is somehow black and white by comparison to his colorful linguistics. Contrarily, there’s a lot of depth to the instrumental harmony forged under the percussive pulsations in the master mix – it’s both postmodern and rather spacy at the onset, but as we get deeper into the song, it becomes a catalyst for some of the limited catharsis we find outside the chorus. In this regard, “No Be Mouth” is a little mathier than some audiences might be ready for (while others will accept it for the refreshing take on hip-hop it undeniably is).
The production quality here is very slick but definitely nothing that I would deem over the top, especially when taking into account the increased polish found on everything from Soundcloud rap to the big budget Brooklyn beats coming from back east at the moment. Similar to the content Trippie Redd was putting out last year, JTK’s sound has a very raw feel even at its most refined, which alludes to a more extensive emotionality than most artists would be willing to expose so early on in their career.
There’s nothing rushed about the vocal delivery in “No Be Mouth,” giving it a lot more in common with the slow-rolling 90’s rappers who paved the way for modern hip-hop than it does anything in the spitfire augmentations of a synthetic-happy generation. This isn’t meant as a shot at the millennial rap era – I’m a big fan of the experimentalism it’s yielding 0 but instead an acknowledgement of how familiar a framework JTK is manipulating in this all-new release. He knows who he wants to be in the studio, and more importantly, the kind of skillset he has to adopt to get to the mountaintop.
Right now is a great time to be a rap fan, and independent artists like JTK are the biggest reason why. JTK isn’t wasting our time with a lot of watered-down concepts in “No Be Mouth,” nor is he simply refashioning a style of play that was popularized by his influences over a generation ago. This is a songwriter who is blazing his own trail forward, and though he’s still got a couple of rough edges that he’ll need to work on between now and Hollywood, he’s showing off more than a little potential in the fantastic new single that is “No Be Mouth.”