Mind Is Strong But My Body's Weak

Posted by moneyworth | May 23, 2012

Lest you conclude, based on the exhilarating Chicago hypewave on which Chief Keef, King Louie, and so many other local artists have been riding the past few months, that the Chicago scene is composed solely of raw, Brick Squad-esque street rap—not that I'm complaining—well, first off, you haven't been listening hard enough (see: Tree's Sunday School mixtape, ShowYouSuck's One Man Pizza Party 2 mixtape, Lil Reese's "Haters", Fatzmack (ft. Katie Got Bandz)'s "Lady Hitta", Chin Chilla Meek's YouTube output, even Keef's latest "Ballin"... I could go on, and on).

And then meet Nylo, a Chicagoan whose recent Memories Speak EP is doing the DIY-R&B thing better than pretty much anyone (no, we do not speak that word that rhymes with, uh, DVR&B). Her delivery is flawless yet natural, comfortable, girlish without being cutesy or coy, a little fucked up without vomiting upside down crosses in your face, without that sense of trying just a touch too hard that I often get with The Weeknd and peers.

While Abel and Drake are the most obvious comparisons, particularly in regard to the brooding, echoing beats and 40-ish percussion, there are a lot of similarities to Jhene Aiko and Cassie's understated soulfulness and grasp of the importance of empty space. And while there's something almost repulsive about Abel's self-indulgent parties-pills-girls lyrical themes, Nylo's lyrics about lust and heartbreak are poignant in their straightforwardness, without that I'm-so-dark-y'all front so many put on; "Rent Free" and "Attention" actually give me jarringly vivid flashbacks to what my heart felt like when I was a handful of years younger.

It's a commendably cohesive, consistent release—there are no low points in its five tracks (if it feels strange to say that about a five-song EP, see Miguel's recent Art Dealer Chic mini-EP series; despite being some of the best material released this year, there's at least one skippable track in each three-song volume). I have to say—I was pretty certain I'd hit my limit with this particular breed of contemporary R&B, until I heard Nylo.

Download Nylo's Memories Speak EP for free here.


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