REVIEW: Nue Releases Sophomore Album ‘PLAYGROUND’

On August 12, Toronto-based rapper Nue released his sophomore album PLAYGROUND. The full-length project follows success with its two lead singles, 2021’s “Feel It Now”, and the more recent “Wallflower.” 

Nue didn’t hold back when experimenting with his style for PLAYGROUND. He mentioned that when mixing traditional rock sound with rap, “I went in a whole direction I’d never gone in before…” The album is a fusion of rap, alternative, rock, and punk music, blending elements effortlessly to create a sonically cohesive work. 

“Wallflower” merges rock and rap to express his distress over losing a partner after helping her grow in confidence. Nue shows his talents in both rapping and singing through vulnerable lyrics like, “So I took her and turned her to a rockstar, but I went the wrong way, and I lost her.” The track’s moody vibe is encapsulated by trap percussion, soft bass, and roaring electric guitar combined to create a full, explosive sound. The single’s music video features burning photographs and dramatic lighting, as well as a scene of the woman standing in a gallery of her own pictures as she grows in self-esteem towards the video’s conclusion, leaving Nue alone. 

“Feel It Now” is a spin on the Pixies 1997 hit, “Where Is My Mind?” Sampling the source material’s iconic opening vocal riff and driving guitar with an added modern rap twist, Nue sings about drug use, anxiety, and losing control. The verses feature simple drum lines to draw focus to Nue’s lyricism, while each chorus is a burst of sound with the addition of charged electric guitar, building drums, and yelling in the background, heightening the piece’s emotional value. 

In a slight tone shift, “Dilemma” takes a more lighthearted approach to its instrumentation, primarily featuring a soft, catchy guitar riff. Laidback drums kick in when Nue begins his rap about wanting a girl back though he knows their relationship will never work. Emotionally charged lyrics like, “Maybe sometimes I think about you all the time, but I’m not going back there”, paired with a summery guitar solo line and calm tempo give a sense of cathartic acceptance fresh to the album’s sound. However, this sonic diversity is to be expected from Nue in this project. PLAYGROUND’s cover art is intended to represent rebirth and rebuilding, and through his successful experimentation with this album, Nue accomplished just that. 

PLAYGROUND is currently available for purchase and streaming.