A Self Gang EP is the debut project of Madison-based rapper Nino Carter. In the midst of the summer of 2017, while working on his full-length project, Carter sped off on a tangent that eventually became this EP.
“My goal with this project was to grab the water I need to plant my seeds,” Carter said in a Facebook message. “This project was a side curve; I felt it was more necessary and needed to be heard currently.”
A Self Gang EP features a menacing palette of droning synths, 808s and Carter’s raspy voice. Carter’s voice has tinges of Jadakiss, a splash of Immortal Technique and a layer beneath that makes his voice all his own. The beats are dense enough to possess their own gravitational pulls. His rhymes are matured and hungry. A Self Gang EP is delivered with a distinct sense of authority, as if Carter has out-maneuvered his competition for years.
“B.F.A.,” the first track on the EP, is a maniacal onslaught of lyricism. “A ton of faulty actions, I’m the only soul unpenalized / Blackberries, iPhones, I chose to keep the pen alive / Pencil’s just as valuable, the opposite of genocide / Then I died, reincarnated to keep men alive,” Carter raps on the opening lines. Devoid of hooks, Carter’s raps take center stage. He’s ambitious and knows how to harness that ambition into witty rhymes that stand out in a hyper-saturated SoundCloud environment.
Unfortunately, A Self Gang EP blurs together given the short 10-minute runtime. Whether it’s because of the similarities in production or the constant barrage of verses, it’s hard to tell. The lack of hooks, while refreshing at first, means songs don’t have something to differentiate them from the rush of rhymes.
Originally from Rockford, IL, Carter is another up-and-comer in the ever-growing Madison music scene. As a debut, A Self Gang EP is a strong project. There’s room to improve the songwriting and to diversify the sound palette he’s pulling from, but there’s no doubt he’s on the right path. Going forward, he has the potential to bring a darker sound to the area with his full-length project.