Jamaica is known for having the fastest man in the world, beautiful beach resorts and a rich culture. In the future the little island in the Caribbean may have something else to add to its list of achievements: Jamaican hip hop artist Nomad Carlos, a man who was born to drop a beat.
Carlos was born in Miami, but he was raised in Kingston from the age of 5. The up-and-coming trailblazer for the Jamaican hip hop industry recently released his newest mixtape, Me Against the Grain, this past November.
The mixtape includes musical input from several other well known and rising Jamaican rappers, such as Five Steez, TSD, Tronic, MPC Boyz, The Consultancy, Inztinkz, The Patents, Sinima, DJ King Flow and Paperchase Beats.
Carlos’ latest work also features MC mastering the use of hardcore street and gutter style beats. Some tracks have reggae flare, while others add a gangster-style rap finesse to top it off. He lights up his tracks with lyrics that provide vivid images of his everyday life in the heart of Kingston, Jamaica. Feature tracks, like “Only The Strong”, “Make It Work” and “Time” speak to his hard-work-and-hustle lifestyle.
On closer inspection, Carlos’ lyrics convey the struggle he faced growing up in a rough urban environment. In several of his tracks, he mentions how he worked seven days a week to support himself and his mother. Carlos also illustrates the roller coaster ride that love can be as many of his tracks discuss past flings, relationships and heartbreaks. The mark of his true artistry lies in his ability to translate these feelings into music.
Although the mixtape features its fair share of gangster rap, it also features passionate and deeply intellectual tracks about love among people and harsh Third World realities. The trailblazing artist manages to artistically blend these themes together to paint a picture of Jamaica, and what it means to him, for his audience. His tracks have an East Coast-late 90s feel to them.
Nomad Carlos does the island justice in that his lyrics bring light to the corruption and injustice the Greater Antilles island has faced. Jamaica, unlike America, only gained its independence from England in 1962, almost 200 years after the Revolutionary War. Jamaica, as a Third World nation, still faces rampant poverty and stagnant social injustice, all of which Carlos more than mentions in his lyrics.
Although the rapper reveals some of the tragedies and hardships Jamaica faces, he still points out his love for the island and its vibrant culture and resilient people.
The island has managed to produce several influential figures in the past and could manage to do so again through Nomad Carlos. Although reggae and dancehall dominates the music market in Jamaica, Nomad Carlos defies the stereotype and manages to appeal to a different audience and diversifies the island’s music industry. Carlos provides a different perspective on what is developing musically in Jamaica and could potentially put hip hop on the top of Jamaica-native hits.