Release Date: Oct 14, 2014
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Pop, R&B, Contemporary R&B
“Am I tripping for having a vision? / My prediction – I’mma be on top of the world.” There’s nothing wrong with “having a vision” – ambition is always a pro. Give it up to Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz, who bring a unique fusion of styles to the musical table on their debut album, Black Star Elephant. Arguably best categorized as pop musicians, Nico & Vinz incorporate dashes of African music, hip-hop, and R&B.
Afro-beat pop by way of Norway, Nico & Vinz deliberately blur cultural and musical boundaries on their 2014 debut, Black Star Elephant. Such happy disregard for genres is the secret to the duo's appeal, as is how they emphasize hooks above all else. Usually, the rhythms are too streamlined and club-ready to be called polyrhythms, although they certainly exuberantly percolate in the fashion Westerners associate with African drums.
Until the beginning of this year, Norwegian rappers Nico Sereba and Vinz Dery were a Tupac-influenced hip-hop duo. Their career-changing strategy, which resulted in the chart-topping summer hit Am I Wrong, was to drop the rapping and make a feature of their African roots (Nico is Ivorian, Vinz Ghanaian), while retaining a European pop sensibility. Black Star Elephant is the resultant concoction, in which clubby Eurodisco bumps up against Afrobeat drumming and chanting, while the MCs dispense inspirational truisms along the lines of “People will always be people to me.
Sincerity went out of fashion, like, two decades ago, right? That’s one reason for the paucity of issues-minded pop in recent years. Whatever the real enemy is — capitalism, narcissism or any of their cousins — pop music has become an underused vehicle for unironic statements of change, a ….