JTK “No Be Mouth”

These days, you definitely don’t have to look very far to find quality hip-hop on the shelves of your local record store, but one thing that hasn’t changed in the last couple of decades is the genre’s underground supremacy. For artists like JTK, the ins and outs of the commercial side of rap don’t matter nearly as much as the preservation of its core aesthetics does, and in the new single “No Be Mouth,” the Nigerian-Canadian transplant shows us just how committed to the craft he is. There aren’t a lot of fanciful bells and whistles in “No Be Mouth;” outside of the glaring vocals provided by he and Tunji, as well as the bumpy bassline that shadows his every emission, this track is as crisp and unadorned as premium hip-hop should be.

There’s nothing particularly synthetic about the instrumental tonality in this single, and that’s something that I just haven’t heard in any of the mainstream hip-hop that’s made its way across my desk in the last few months. The bass, the drums, even the keys that circle the vocal like sharks getting ready to come in for the kill – everything here aches with a live-quality texture that expresses tension as often as it does swagger. Boasting an organic sound is half the battle when trying to establish yourself as a legit player in the modern hip-hop game, but for JTK, it’s essentially coming as second nature in “No Be Mouth.”

Though far from the most elaborate or eccentrically-faceted rap songs I’ve reviewed in the year 2020 thus far, “No Be Mouth” is a killer introduction to JTK’s sound, and moreover, the state of Canadian indie rap in general. This artist isn’t claiming to represent any sort of a movement within the underground at the moment, but I can definitely understand why he’d be attracting a little more buzz than his rivals this summer. He’s got a one of a kind edginess to his style that could go a long way towards shutting down the plasticized competition he’s facing in the American circuit right now, and with the proper promotion, I think his visibility is going to skyrocket as the year goes by.

Sebastian Cole