3-D Rapper: Nameless Vagrant’s A Name You Should Know


Nameless Vagrant

Conscious- and envelope-pushing rap raised to the top this year with albums such as “Forrest Hill Drive” and “To Pimp a butterfly”; New York City’s underground provides a place where young rappers rip the envelop into a playground.

Nameless Vagrant, a member of 99 sublime, does just that with his thought-provoking fast-paced raps. They force ones mind to engage with what he says. In his song “You Must Believe in Spring” he references Whitman, Romeo, Juliet, Confucius and more. The love song becomes a mental treasure hunt. Synapses make rapid-fire connections painting a vivid picture of young lovers, and these young lovers speak to the complexity of love in modern times. 

Working with other rappers in New York City as well as within 99 Sublime gives Vagrant a place to grow and stretch as an artiste and push pass the archaic constraints of rap. “Me living with the other five members of 99 Sublime, my own experience has been that once someone makes something good then the next person who hears it is going to immediately make something better. Not because it’s a one up thing, but because you want to be on the level of the person you call your artistic brother,” he said, over the phone.

Rap artists tend to center everything on the ego. Showing dominance through sexual conquest, ability to handle drugs and pure bravado. From Biggie rhapsodizing about his prowess with women to the constant declaration of superiority every rapper, with a number one hit, seems obliged to make. Nameless Vagrant makes a mockery of this bravado.

“Our culture is inundated with people who claim to be the best. It’s just so braggadocios and you have to check that at the door, and think what it is that you’re giving to people, ” he said.

To confront the ego he “splits” into two characters. Nameless Vagrant hyphenated to ENxVE (pronounced “envy”) becomes the thinker. Silver Kingfisher stands in as the performer. The lyrics Silver Kingfisher spits aim to please you by lulling you with what we identify as familiar. But his purpose goes beyond entertaining, it becomes a satire showcasing the absurdity of these tropes.

“You can’t have one without the other. By rapping I have to deal with certain things because to me that’s what I grew up with. But if I can include awareness, you can see that I can rap about more then yada, yada, yada, guns and girls,” he said.

The song “Gryme,” best illustrates what Silver Kingfisher stands for. The song brims to the top with one sexual suggestion after another. He raps with no innuendos, making it obvious the song objectifies women. He says, “Holy fucking necrophilophilliac, he killed the cat, used the Sudowoodo on the Persian ooh she feeling that.”

The extreme vulgarity of the line jars the listener. One needs to think, why it took until that line for us to feel uncomfortable? Our willingness to bop our heads as he taunts a woman urging her to shake her ass, speaks more about us than it does about him. He simple gives us what we expect from a rapper. But, within that line lays the spice that all his songs have. Even when we’d rather consume without thought, he adds in an extra ingredient that leaves an aftertaste of reflection in our minds.

Nameless Vagrant also reflects on the ego. The ego in his verses holds much more complexity.  He constantly questions the appropriate limits of ego.

“As a human being I’ve dealt with how much confidence is too much confidence or what’s the appropriate way to handle yourself around others,” he said.

In his song “Draft 01” the dimensions of his own ego stretch and shrink with each line.  The line, “ If this were a house of distorted mirrors I’d look like DeNiro fostering egotistical moments of validation, but fuck it you looking at me.” Anyone who watched a movie with DeNiro in it knows the characters he plays hold a certain air of power. Yet he says he can only identify with that power if he looked in a distorted mirror. Weaving in DeCartes, “I think therefor I am,” the song comes off like a philosophy student writing their dissertation on the ego. By using rap the level accessibility rises and ensures that the public and not just stuffy professors get a chance to enter into the dialogue.

To paint Vagrant as an intellectual hero falls short. In fact in some songs he comes off as the guy every girl warns her friends about. In “Draft 03” he raps about the unfortunate girl stuck in his web. When he says, “ Of course I love you, why else would I message you with texts so obtuse it’d leave a normal soul perplexed,” I feel a need to snatch that girl away from him and shake her. We don’t want to give him a pat on the back for scoring a girl. He makes us sympathize with the girl and disagree with him. This song saves him from the pedestal and puts him on the ground with the rest of us. 

At a time in music that feels one-dimensional, Vagrant with his songs offers a three dimensionality we can all relate to. We cannot define ourselves because we have way too many edges to fit into a box. His music shifts shape and takes on new meaning with each listen. Just like we shift shape and take on a new meaning with every day.

Go shift shapes with Nameless Vagrant and 99 sublime as they perform at the Palisades on July 17th at 11:55pm.

Photo courtesy of Bryant Alexander featuring 99 Sublime with Nameless Vagrant in the center.

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