Nicolay was just an unknown aspiring Dutch producer before Little Brother's Phonte contacted him after hearing one of his beats on an Okayplayer message board. The pair eventually decided to release an album together as the Foreign Exchange, which sent Nicolay's career into high gear, as he produced tracks for other Justus League members and released a handful of solo albums. It was on one of these, 2006's Here, that Nicolay met (over message boards, again) Houston MC Kevin Jackson, or Kay, featuring him on the track "My Story." The duo worked together so well that they, too, decided to make a full-length, which resulted in this, Time:Line. On the album, Nicolay shows himself to be a producer with a far greater range than what he had previously demonstrated, not neglecting the warm, light '70s soul and jazz sounds that he's used in his other work (the five-track stretch of "The Lights" through "Tight Eyes" is in fact quite reminiscent of Connected), but he focuses his beats around thick horns, electric guitars, and thoughtful keys, the melody itself central in his construction, the songs less verse/hook-oriented, more musical pieces that stretch and glide their way into an entirety, even if the individual parts take different tones. Time:Line begins with the title track, a brief, triumphant, Lifesavas-esque number that sets the rest of the album up nicely, while the very catchy "The Gunshot" (featuring none other than Chip Fu from the Fu-Schnickens) is inflected with reggae and fast-picked guitar. Even the more typical Nicolay productions have an inventiveness about them -- something that is carried through each piece -- from the breezy piano and bird chirps of "I've Seen Rivers" to the yacht-rocky bass of "Through the Wind." The whole thing flows together well, and also works well with Kay, a rapper whose cadence is as melodic and rhymes well-constructed as the beats upon which they sit. He's a thoughtful MC, but his topics are able to cover everything from his birth ("Blizzard") to admiring women ("Tight Eyes") to his own death (the trilogy of "Grand Theft Auto," "When You Die," and "Dancing with the Stars") to the hang-ups of fame ("The Lights") without ever sounding either preachy or insensitive, two categories hip-hop can unfortunately fall into quite easily. It may be only their first full-length, but Time:Line is a strong showing from both musicians, and promises what could be a very fruitful partnership.
Performance CreditsNicolay & Kay Primary Artist
Stokley Vocals,Guest Appearance
Chip Fu Vocals,Guest Appearance
Luke Austin Synthesizer,fender rhodes,Guest Appearance
Technical CreditsKevin Jackson Composer,Executive Producer
Roderick Roachford Composer
Frank William Miller Art Direction