Jim Legxacy: HNPM Album Review
Rapper-producer Jim Legxacy opens “miley’s riddim,” the third song from his latest project HNPM (homeless nigga pop music), with two blasts of early 2010s nostalgia. The first is the drop from Iroking.com, a Nigerian digital streaming service that catered to all kinds of African music in the 2010s; the second is a sped-up sample of Miley Cyrus’ “Ordinary Girl,” a single from her Hannah Montana days. The source material couldn’t be more disparate, but with little more than a story of crumbling love and a shuffling Afrobeats drum break, Legxacy manages to join them as links in the same chain. The track is just one example of the amorphous, generation-spanning pool of references familiar to anyone molded by the internet: the kind where American Football demos share space with Drake freestyles and songs from Disney Channel Original Movies in the same iTunes library. homeless nigga pop music encapsulates this deep referentiality, creating a solar system that orbits around the triplet suns of Afrobeats, emo, and rap.
This brand of fusion isn’t the only thing that sets Legxacy apart. Rappers like Rico Nasty, Kenny Mason, and Polo Perks have consistently reminded us that rap and emo are capable of meeting in the middle. But it’s the way that the London rapper-singer’s gossamer, self-produced arrangements clash with his melancholy stories of love and innocence lost that add weight to his ballads and raps. Take “dj” and “old place,” which pair tales of rekindled relationships with shimmering takes on drill and Jersey club rap. On “Eye Tell (!),” Legxacy tries and fails to get over an ex by confiding in friends; its bouncy, stringy beat sounds as fit for Fireboy DML as it is for Dave or J Hus.
Most of homeless nigga pop music’s early singles leaned aggressively on a formula that paired guitar licks and recognizable samples, so it’s a relief to hear Legxacy pull other tricks (both old and new) out of his bag. Several songs shift on a dime, revealing darker cores underneath their sparkling shells. Early highlight “block hug” begins with a meditation on heartbreak and Black masculinity (“She told me hood niggas don’t cry/So when she broke my heart, I had the straight face”), which morphs into a moody drill beat that Legxacy proceeds to rip through like he’s Central Cee. The title track sheds the singing and guitars entirely, trading them for pointed storytelling over a smooth chunk of soul. He’s not the first rapper to sound as comfortable crooning as he does doling out bars, but there’s an urgency and freshness to his approach that gives it a golden shine.