The Rapidian

Ed Niño's New Leaf

A review of New Leaf, the third and most recent studio album by local rapper Ed Niño.
Underwriting support from:

The cover of New Leaf by Ed Niño

The cover of New Leaf by Ed Niño

When I last caught up with Ed Niño, he had just recently released his second studio album, Welcome to Jericho. That release really sat with me for a while. While I don’t normally get into hard-edged hip hop, Niño’s inspired combination of heavy beats and insightful lyrics - not the typical glitz, glamour, and hijinx you would expect from a rapper - really worked for me. It was just real honest and relevant material backed up with innovative and memorable sounds. Niño admitted to me then that he had progressed quite a bit as a person just as his music had evolved.

The change in Ed Niño, the musician and the person, is evident in New Leaf, the artist’s third studio release. The first half of the album, all of which can be streamed on his Bandcamp page,  feels like a personal plea to learn about the new Ed Niño - no guns (he makes a point about the fact that this never was his style on an early track), all sobriety, and all honesty. The Ed Niño on display in New Leaf  has transformed from the artist heard even as recently as his second album released barely a year ago - and these changes seem to be what compelled him to put out a new album so soon.

The second half is listening material for when you are working on your computer, with tracks about religion and the 1980’s, among other topics. The listener gets a lyrical explanation from Niño about where his life path has taken him - from the spotlight to reminiscing about past times gone and back to his conviction for making it known that he is here to be a major presence in the local hip hop scene. This album is a good platform for that, and Niño should get more shows from his energy in life and on stage.

New Leaf ends with a supporting spots from local MCs Suport and Nixon and a concluding song that wraps up the experience of having Niño beat you over the head - in a strictly positive way - with the reminder that he wants to be heard and that he has the credentials that earn that right.

I first heard of Niño three years ago but ignored him at the time as too edgy to make it mainstream, but as Niño has changed so have I. Some of this record slows down, but the energy maintains throughout and I recommend this release to those wanting to hear about Grand Rapids hip hop.

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