To download the album, click the artwork above.

Once you mention you’ve arrived to a perceived destination, you’re at “The Show”. The road you take to get there can vary. You can be shot straight out of the bottom leagues and blossom at the right moment or you have it immediately ordained on you like a high school phenom. While many believe the road of the high school phenom is the one most wanted, it’s the former position which yields the most results of success.

After slowly proving they’re ready for the bright lights since 2007’s Nice Guys Finish Last, the Houston-quartet of Niceguys show out on The Show, a debut album that is essentially their Green Room EP on HGH. Yves is the wordsmith, Free & Christoph are the composers of lavish soundscapes and Candlestick spins everything into a blend. The band ventures into so many different aspects and sounds that The Show is about as balanced a hip-hop album you will find this year.

From the title track “The Show”, the early trademark of The Niceguys is Yves Saint’s committed to blistering bars and intricate wordplay. Backed by Lee Lonn Walker’s vocals, Yves starts off the album reveling in the group’s greatness, pushing through production featuring crowd cheers, bluesy horns and light drums. “Toast” speeds up the melody to Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” to build a backdrop of triumph and expression. Saint seems fixated on making sure everyone knows he and his guys have made it and refuses to drop the baton.

Musically, The Show takes a varied approach. The soul samples and jazz influences that found themselves on the group’s earlier releases are there but linking up with James Kelly gives the production more of a punch to touch more diverse crowds. “On This Road” is essentially what Kill Bill would be like had Tarantino decided to produce. It’s spacious and epic with spaghetti western type horns and Steve Bigham’s grainy chorus. For seven minutes, Yves throws in a barrage of punchlines ranging from Tyler Durden to Zach Galifinakis. “Things Ain’t The Same” matches the template of lyrics crafted before production, bleak guitar riffs tied behind lyrics simple in delivery, complex in meaning.

The contributions from Lee Lonn Walker on “Somebody” and Jack Freeman on the closer “Curtains” add even more soul and emotion to a record already chock full of it. Walker’s pleas are rich in texture, giving the singer poise beyond his stature and Freeman trades in his boastful braggadocio found on “Not At All” for a somber and relaxing croon.

Through weaving lyricism, Yves Saint wants nothing more in the world than maybe some Jack Daniels, some Shiner Bock, a healthy box of Domino’s and “victory for his Niceguys”. Judging by the group’s effort on their debut, he might just get that and then some. It’s pretty ambitious but The Show is what genre bending hip-hop sounds like: equal parts loud, soulful & different. The Show proves that the group has taken every step and precaution to be a step ahead of the rest.

FINAL SCORE: 9.0