There’s no doubt in my mind that artists like GR3YS0N (formerly known as NyteXing and Maverick Da Ronin) are the next evolution of Nerdcore Hip-Hop. His album, No Masters 3, is definitive proof of that. There are many artists out there who are working hard to level up the genre, and GR3YS0N is at the forefront of that movement. His latest effort isn’t perfection, but his ronin spirit and tireless work ethic are taking his music in an upward trajectory.
GR3YS0N (Real name Matthew Mosely), from Bethlehem, PA by way of Brooklyn, NY, has been active in the Nerdcore Hip-Hop scene since 2014 when he dropped his first full-length album No Masters. He’s keeping his creative fire burning hot, having released eight more albums and several EPs since. The east coast influence is strong in his beats and his flow. Mosely is heavily involved in his local music scene. He runs the Starcity showcase event twice a year, bringing talent from the Leigh Valley area of Pennsylvania together for one big show.
Mosely has worked with the likes of Mickey Factz, Richie Branson, Mega Ran, and many others. He lives by the motto “gamer, not a gangster,” but don’t let that fool you. Mosely is as sharp a lyricist as anyone with a flow to match and is willing to back it up. With such an extensive catalog of music produced in such a short period, there’s hardly anyone in Nerdcore, or any genre working as hard as he is.
An arsenal of bangers
No Masters 3 shows how GR3YS0N has evolved as an artist over the last six years. He’s brought an arsenal of bangers (Preaching, Be a King), anthems (GNAG, Shine), and introspective journeys (Embarrassed, Sleep). The album comes in at a whopping 21 tracks and 70+ minutes. With that kind of depth, nearly any Otaku, Nerdcore, or Hip-Hop fan should be able to find something to enjoy.
The Otaku/Nerdcore vibe is strong in NM3, with tracks like Hokage, Streets of Rage 2, and Plus Ultra prominently featured. However, GR3YS0N is a master at lacing references into his rhymes in a way that doesn’t feel forced. He doesn’t hide anything, proudly displaying his love for gaming and anime— but he’s honed his craft to the point where those things come through naturally instead of feeling in-your-face or unnatural.
GNAG (Gamer Not A Gangster) is my favorite track of the whole project and should have been the anthem most of the marketing of the album stood on. I get it, you’ve got Mickey Factz on Pardon Me, and you need to take advantage of that built-in audience. It’s a fabulous, catchy song in its own right. To me, GNAG is the cornerstone to build on— that’s the single people need to hear. The features throughout the album are mostly solid, especially Crimson Alchemist. Her bars on Heroes Saga 4 were a pleasant surprise and enjoyable. Also… those Missy Elliot vibes!
A solid foundation to build on
While GR3YS0N is undoubtedly evolving as an artist, some things hold No Masters 3 back from perfection. There are a couple of tracks, For My Hustle, in particular, that sound a bit muddy compared to the rest of the album. Too many tracks rely on the same structure of Chorus-verse-chorus-verse/feature-chorus. It makes songs sound too familiar or repetitive as you move through the tracklist.
The “slash” gimmick is relied on too heavily. I know a lot of rappers have them— Snoop Dogg, Method Man, and countless others. Having catchwords/phrases is fine, but should be used sparingly. On Make It Out Alive, I would prefer to hear the chorus performed by someone with R&B chops. That one change would make all the difference in the world for an otherwise quality track.
Also, 21 tracks on an album is a lot to listen to in one sitting. I bet it’s hard to cut tracks down when you feel good about all of them. Perhaps saving some of those for future projects would be more prudent in order to put out an album that someone can easily listen to front-to-back. I believe GR3YS0N has a great foundation to build on going forward. Some extra time to polish things up here and there will take his game to the next level.
Should you buy No Masters 3?
GR3YS0N puts his heart and soul into his work, and it shows. No Masters 3 manages to entertain from start to finish. East coast beats blend perfectly with energetic bars and the right amount of Nerdcore seasoning. Even the areas where the album loses a little ground shouldn’t be enough to deter anyone from hearing this talented emcee bring the house down and explode their headphones with his thunderous anthems.
Despite it’s few flaws, NM3 is exactly what the Nerdcore scene needs— a roadmap to take the genre forward into places no one thinks it can go. $10 is a small price to pay for all the value packed into an impressive effort that deserves to be heard.
No Masters 3 By GR3YS0N
- Perfectly blends Nerdcore raps with the east coast style
- Beats are on point
- Mickey Factz/Crimson Alchemist features
- Song structure is repetitive
- Too much "slash"-ing
- Front-to-back listening is a marathon