If you’ve been hunting for those bars, well, we have good news for you… it’s Open Season
Nomis teamed up with a slew of CHH heavyweights including Joe Ayinde, J. Crum, CZAR Josh, Thomas Iannucci, and Shiwan to show everyone that the essence of hip hop is not dead.
Ayinde and Iannucci joined forces for the song “Illyinde” late in 2018 and “Open Season” feels much like a sequel. Of course, every good sequel needs some more friends along for the ride. Iannucci gave FiveTwenty some insight on how this new song came to be.
“Some months ago I had been listening to a lot of indie CHH and, because I like those sorta things, I tried to come up with a list of the best up and coming lyricists out there. I feel like the music industry often doesn’t give shine to lyrical skill nor is it supportive of up and comers until they have quite a buzz. I’m always trying to support the underdogs.”
“In any case, I tweeted out that, in my opinion, no up and comer could hang bar for bar with Joe Ayinde, J. Crum, Kay Sade, CZAR Josh, or Shiwan…except possibly myself. The six of us are all friendly and the thread was pretty cordial; several of us had been kicking around the idea of a supergroup at one point, which is where that idea came from in the first place.”
“Nomis, who is a friend of Joe’s, saw the tweet and respectfully disagreed.”
“He said that he felt he could easily go bar for bar with everyone mentioned, and anyone else who cared to get it. He was happy to prove it if needed. I hadn’t heard his music before, but after he said that I quickly streamed ‘Rhodes to Rome’ and was not disappointed. It was then that I suggested the best way to prove this would be for all of us to get on wax. Everyone agreed but it was Nomis who took initiative to actually make the song happen.”
“He reached out to us all privately, came up with a beat and concept, and brought “Open Season” together. Unfortunately, Kay wasn’t on the song – yet it came out amazing. We might have to do a second with her on it!”
[For the record I am 100% here for this. So Kay, I bet you won’t do it (but I’ll be happy to have you prove me wrong). We will see though.]
As Iannucci described “Open Season”, it is an “aggressive, battle-style approach that challenged the six emcees to bring their best or get overlooked. Let’s dive in and see what they were able to do.
The kick hits and the keys get tickled as an introduction to madness…and then comes Joe. “Peeling off in the whip like the skin of a slave, I’m timid cause/ I remember when in my venomous days my sinning was/ centered on a seemingly infinite phase/ but I find God in the now and give Him the praise, Glory” Listen, maybe Joe is CHH – maybe he is not, but the same way he declares that he is not worried about figuring out Kanye’s beliefs on this track, I’m not trying to figure it out. All I know is that I’m 20 seconds into the song and it feels like the mic has been dropped. Ayinde has the bravado and the skill to back it up. He is quick to challenge anyone in the rap game that wants to go, and the sauce he’s cooking with sure smells good bro!
Next up is the villain from Omaha, Nebraska – and as we saw on his “battle” with North Carolina emcee Mitch Darrell, Crum knows how to craft a verse. “I don’t believe your twisted face and all your fake bravado/ I’m from the place that shake ya voice up like an old vibrato/ Who really wanna start a war vs. me and mi hermonos/ they former felons all they smiles look like El Dorado” I can’t verify that Crum is speaking about his fellow “Open Season” emcees, but with some of those smiles…maybe. I really am loving Crum’s vocal inflection and the way he rides the hits at the end of his verse is a perfect segway to the hitter on deck.
We now have the man that we should all thank for this track, at least according to Iannucci. I’m going to be honest, while I’ve seen Nomis across social media, much like Thomas I hadn’t dove into his music up to this point. Allow me to be the first to apologize and promise to work on correcting that moving forward. Within a few bars, it is easy to see why Nomis believed he could hang with some of CHH’s most gifted lyricists. “(An East African sun) That solidified my decade as a Dread Knight/ We celebrate the living while we recognize the dead might/ see life a little different if you bled might seem like/ the mission’s actually possible, Red Light, Green Light (Toast)” From Tower of Babel references to Bron and the travels of Dame Dollar, it feels like Nomis seized this opportunity and ran with it.
“Open Season” gets blessed with its second Villain, and you can believe that this royal wordsmith is CULTUREd indeed. Listen, Josh already dropped one of my favorite tracks of the year with “IDWCMH” so I know what he brings to the table. But dang bro, did you have to do it like this? “They ask, Benz or Beamer?/ I be like, “neither, I’m a dreamer”/ Coolin’ in Louisiana, drippin’ like Katrina/ Word to my shawty, she creole and got that flava/ Righteous in her heart, but prone to ratchet behavior” What we take away from this kids, (I’m a teacher, deal with it) is that we will pray for Josh’s girl and anyone who tries to out rap the CZAR. At this point in the song “Open Season” has gone from a problem to not even fair and there are still two more verses left.
My Hawaiian brother has chops, but after hearing the first four verses I knew Thomas had to get real ill on this one. “I do not have friends, only admirers/ if you want this smoke, you need fire first/ I bring the fireworks, you more Fyre Fest/ and now you’re screwed like Ja Rule with the IRS/ But I digress, think it’s time for you to call it/ man you took so many shots you look like an alcoholic” With that first line I feel like I need to confirm the status of the relationship Thomas and I have. I mean regardless, it is true none the same. I’m a big fan and I love the continued growth I see out of Iannucci on each and every track. Since winning that random award that he rarely talks about, Thomas has truly leveled up his approach and put in the work to be squarely in the discussion of the culture’s top emcees.
When you’re the closer you cannot buckle under pressure. According to Shiwan, he was really the only choice to wrap this instant-classic up. “Only God gave me lyrics, I’m letting the flow swirl/ I’m like Jay mixed with K-Dot and Drake in a cool world/ and I ain’t talking about climbing to stay up to parkour/ I’m like turning on the grill, get the fire and charcoal” I guess if you can’t take this heat you should probably listen to something else. Shiwan definitely fulfilled his role and cemented “Open Season” as one of 2019’s best.
There really is not much else that I can write that would do this song justice. All I can say is, for those of us (yes, myself included) who clamor for hip hop at its roots, here we are. If we can’t run the numbers up on this and show not only CHH, but hip hop at large, that we have lyricists – then we have no room for complaints or social media posts about “back in the day”.
If you haven’t heard it, listen now: