Sound — 7
Solidifying the massive influence that social networking sites now have on musical artists' careers, singer/songwriter/rapper Richy Nix is about to make his first official splash in the world of major labels. His debut EP Note To Self on Universal Republic is just now hitting stores this March, but the Ontario native has been creating a buzz since being named the #1 unsigned artist on Canada's MySpace Music charts. Combining the world of rap, rock, and pop, it's easy to understand why Richy has appealed to such a large audience already. That being said, it is the pop genre that does tend to be at the core of Note To Self, and that musical choice will leave listeners wanting a raw, less produced sound a bit turned off in the end. A huge selling point for Richy Nix is the fact that he's quite an accomplished pianist, and he utilizes that musical skill for a good chunk of Note To Self. One might even jump to the conclusion that the opening track Superstar is a epic composition after the first few seconds because of its dramatic piano intro. The arrangement quickly transitions into more of a straightforward pop/club track, with rapping over the verses. The chorus in Superstar, like most of the tracks on the EP, is sung by Richy, whose clean vocals are just as effective as his rapping. At the heart of every song is a catchy, memorable chorus, and Superstar although lyrically a bit self-adoring does deliver. The More I Bleed and the title track have more of a Black Eyed Peas feel, heavily steeped in a club/dance tradition. There is a keyboard solo section within The More I Bleed, however, that is interesting and complex enough that it would fit in some prog rock out there. Of course, that same song also does what many a rock purist might despise: It features vocal autotuning. Guitars do show up at various points in the club-driven tracks, but never do they take a front seat in the mix. If you're not a fan of rap, then Note To Self will be a laborious listen. Richy Nix's approach is actually very much akin to Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda, only Richy opts for lyrics that deal with topics like dating deadbeat women. In terms of rapping ability, Richy is effective and believable, but his messages do get mired with the heavy production value that overtakes most of the EP. Given that most pop/hip-hop artists on the Billboard Charts follow this same game plan, however, Richy Nix's EP will likely only reap the benefits of that overproduction.
Lyrics — 8
In many ways, it is the lyrical content within the rapped sections that will be one of the biggest selling points for general audiences. It's not that the man is rapping about serious issues in the world it's that he is connecting on a level that is easily relatable to the average person. The best example comes in the emotionally driven In My Head, which features the lines: F--k lovers, I hate this shit; It only hurts now; Just another relationship that doesn't work out; F--k it, you make me sick. Award-winning? Probably not. Lyrics that any heartbroken Joe on the street can relate with? Certainly.
Overall Impression — 7
You have to give Richy Nix credit for masterminding his career via the world of MySpace, and there's no doubt that he is a multitalented artist. Introducing a clean piano into many of the songs is one of the most refreshing and surprising aspects about Note To Self. Those moments are rather short and sweet in comparison to the use of samples and synthesizers, but the piano does separate Richy a bit more from the pack. While the EP doesn't feel entirely genuine thanks to the massive musical arrangements, Richy Nix does have mass appeal and will likely find himself on the Billboard Charts down the line.