• Sam Fleming


Bktherula’s Nirvana is messy and fun. On first listen I almost wrote this project off because there are times on Nirvana where it feels like Bktherula doesn’t even try to find the beat. She just meanders over the abstract instrumentals, mixing a singsong flow with harder bars. But as I settled into the project, I saw the genius in it. Once Bk the Rula finds the pocket, she manipulates the space around it with transcendent results.

The instrumentals on this album blend spacey and euphoric synths with the 808s that make bangers. Nirvana’s instrumental style borrows heavily from artists like Lucki and playboy Carti, but Bktherula does something fundamentally different with these beats. While she often raps over abstract, propulsive beats, her vocals always cut through to wake you up. It is not music to vibe out and chill to, Bktherula will make sure you’re paying attention.

Nirvana is best when Bktherula is experimenting. On the opening track ‘III” Bktherula raps over an instrumental with absolutely no drums, alternating between singing and rapping. Here, she layers her vocals in a kind of radical way which allows her to create melodies out of seemingly nothing. For the lyrics “I can never tell lies cause I promise shit some right back,” Bktherula is joined by a chorus of her own voices. She pushes this further on the song “Summer” where she sings beautifully over a skittering instrumental. While she sings, voices behind her are subtly creating melodies and harmonies adding depth to the track.

Every song on Nirvana showcases a different one of Bktherula’s styles. There are so many different styles and moods present that I find it hard to listen to the album all in one go. If I want a happier, vibeyer time I might throw on “Summer” “okok/Depressing,” “ILOVEYOUBACK<3” or “GANGO.” If I wanna hear some scary bangers I’d put on, “never had” “mind fuck” or “welcome.” This makes the project a perfect one to throw on playlists. A Bktherula song pretty much finds its way onto every playlist I make, regardless of the mood.

Nirvana isn’t really about any deep meaning in the lyrics as her lyrical themes are all over the place. She goes from singing about loving someone back on “ILOVEUBACK<3” to throwing blue hundreds at strippers on the very next track. The one theme lyrically that comes through is that Nirvana is a project centered around perseverance. Most tracks are about coming back from some kind of loss, or just continuing the come up. On “GANGO” Bktherula makes sure we know that whatever happens, she plans to bring her team with her. The song starts with a guitar line that could be straight out of “High School Musical” but then the 808s come in and change the whole energy. Even here, Bktherula layers her vocals expertly, making her one voice feel like she has the voices of her entire team behind her.

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