Most artists strive to tell a story with their work, but the collective that is NuRennaissance has taken it to the next level with their latest release. Comprised of artists SHiKi and Nicólas Soul, NuRenaissance has recently released REDD and bluu – two albums written to complement each other and tell a unified story the trials and tribulations of being a young black person living in America.
NuRennaisance was founded when SHiKi and Nicólas Soul met in college. With a common goal of boundless creativity and creating a home for other creatives like themselves, the independent media company was born in Knoxville, TN. This most recent release is officially titled Surviving the NUWORLD, but is structurally two separate albums with unique but intertwined themes.
“…in America “everything is not what it seems”. The USA is a country that looks inviting due to opportunity and the idea of financial freedom, but when you live there you are exposed to constant corruption, racism, and extreme violence.”
Conceptually, REDD is the first album in the project, and the debut release from SHiki as well. Following this is bluu, by Nicólas Soul. Both albums touch on themes of youth and coming of age in a world that has become unpredictable and dangerous. With strong allusions to the current racial tensions in America and the recurring themes of living life to the fullest and effecting change when you can, these two complementary works offer brilliant insight into the complex issues that many young black Americans are facing across the country.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
We love concept albums where each track contributes seamlessly to the bigger picture being told across the record. Both REDD and bluu have achieved this at the highest level. One of the biggest highlights of this project is that the tracks don’t become codependent on each other – every song can easily stand alone, on its own merit, while still perfectly integrating with the story when the albums are listened to in order.
The main focus here is regularly the story being told. But that being said, this doesn’t take away from the quality of the music in the slightest. Both of these albums are well-produced and high quality, with great hooks, lyrics, and instrumentation across the board, moving between rap and hip-hop themes and R&B and soul vibes across the tracks.
The raw emotion is present from the first words of REDD, the leading track of the album from the same name, and we find that energy is consistent across the record. The theme of remembering days of youth gone by are exceedingly present in TrApBRUnCH FreEStyLe, which also boasts seriously solid rapping from both Nicólas Soul and SHiKi.
On bluu, we find a true coming of age story for a young black man in America. We learn about his quest for money and love, his realization that the world can be difficult and cruel, and his descent into financial troubles and drug abuse. The inclusion of the track bluu is a great addition, summarizing the symbolism of the red & blue pill dichotomy and how it relates to the story as a whole. We also loved the 4mysKIN – the raw emotion and power are palpable in every word. Closing the album with useni’s sleigh bell is a brilliant choice. After all of the heaviness of these two projects together, the reprieve that comes with the lyrics being spoken by a child proclaiming there is hope for the future generations is like an oasis in a desert of strife.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
fading2PRPL is a powerful track speaking powerful truths. Every single word in this song is performed with purpose and deliberation, and the story and message being told are amplified for it. Bringing to light the challenges black Americans are facing at the hands of the police and the country, this track does a phenomenal job of capturing the struggle and the pain alongside the desire to honor one’s identity. At this point in the story, the character REDD is killed by police, and this track details the realizations he has in the last moments of his life. The last few lines of this track are crucial to the story, but couldn’t be more applicable to the current state of racial tensions across America:
“And you’d remember me as nothing more
Than a horror story black parents tell their children to ensure they’re home before curfew
A chess piece politicians manipulate to win them their elections
And a hashtag slam poets use to get their points across”
Raw, powerful, and compelling. A modern, truly insightful look at a slew of problems plaguing young black Americans today. It’s a real challenge to write great music that also tells important stories without sacrificing musical quality and creativity. Both SHiKi and Nicólas Soul have achieved this and then some with their respective albums. REDD and bluu have put NuRennaissance on the map as something to keep a watchful eye on – with words and music as powerful as what is found in this release, we’ve got high hopes for their future projects and the effect they’ll have on the world around them.
BELOW: Listen to REDD & bluu and connect with their website and social media platforms. Please support NuRenaissance by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
(Want to have your music reviewed on The Ark of Music? Click HERE.)
Follow, stream, download & connect with NuRENAISSANCE online:
Listen to REDD & bluu by NuRENAISSANCE: