Hip hop and rap seem to be at a crossroads in recent years. The single-verse mumble rappers of the mid-to-late 2010s seem to be falling off, and the genre has split into two camps: the smooth, stylized verse barons like Jack Harlow who call back to the golden age of rap a’la Snoop Dogg, and the super-fast Mac Miller followers like Megan Thee Stallion who are articulate and precise but with a little less swag. A select few rappers can do both; Nana Bangz is one of them.

With a fully late 90s aesthetic and channeling Lil’ Kim energy on steroids, Nana’s verses are about as tight as they come and her freestyle game matches her huge performance personality. With her first singles out in 2018, it seems Nana came out of the gate swinging, with a well-developed style and an ability to wind her verses around the beat with a proficiency that takes many artists decades. From her intro brag track called “Show Me Love” setting an impressive baseline, things only got better from there as Nana continue to hone her craft. From 2021’s “Free Britney” through the 15 or so tracks she’s released in 2022 and 2023, Nana continued to showcase her diverse style and mastery of the mic.

Nana’s first track of 2024 is “Alive,” another example of her ability to switch styles and create all types of verse, even within one track. Channeling the aggression of Lady of Rage with the party acumen and dusky vocal timbre or Foxy Brown, “Alive” sees Nana switching from smooth verse style to angry and heavy to whip-fast lyrics all in the space of about a minute. On top of that, the production for “Alive” is quite different, with a classical string sample floating over the beat as one of Nana’s most aggressive lyrical assaults to-date bangs out around it. It’s clear the contrast is in purpose, with the juxtaposition of the melodic music serving to highlight the heaviness of the verse.

With her solid vocals, vocabulary and verse, it seems only a matter of time before Nana Bangz is discovered for the talent she is, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the born natural rapper. A musician to the core, one of the most compelling arguments for her love of hip hop and dedication to her craft is in a video from last year of her street performance in New Orleans. With her music videos being so stylized, this performance video with nothing more than a drummer for backing shows not only Nana’s amazing performance skills but her true love for the verse. Anyone with that mush passion and talent is a star wherever they go.

“Alive” is out now and can be streamed on Spotify. Check out the video for her newest track, “Yay, Energy!” on Nana Bang’z’s YouTube channel.

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