Mixtape of the Week: J. NIC$ - Dirty Sneakers

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is how the old saying goes. Same applies with music. Don't judge certain albums, or in this case, mixtapes, by their covers. J.NIC$ (pronounced jay-nix) is a versatile emcee/rapper/artist out of the northern side of Dade County -- or uptown as he calls it. He released a mixtape a few months back entitled Dirty Sneakers, a mixtape that honestly sounds more like an album.

But there's a deeper meaning behind the Dirty Sneakers choice of title. A title, J. NIC$ says, he's had up his sleeve for a couple years now. He explains the metaphor behind it, simply stating that "dirty sneakers have different types of dirt and experiences". And by translating that meaning into his music, he lets it be known that his songs reflect all sorts of different styles, different flows, and pretty much different everything.

With a varied selection of industry beats and original tracks, the production on Dirty Sneakers is eclectic to say the very least. From a slower and southern tempoed night-crawler anthem like "City Lights", to the true-school hip-hop sounds on "The Sole", which serves as the mixtape's introductory track. J. NIC$ tackles all sorts of topics and situations that the everyday Miamian goes through: making money, loving music and chasing the opposite sex. That being said, the forwardly titled "F**k Something," is one of the stand out tracks of the tape. With a couple edits here and there and a small tweaking of the chorus, a radio-friendly version of the song could really have the makings of being a hit single.

All in all, what can be appreciated most about Dirty Sneakers is that it's an honest look into the life of J. NIC$. He gives you open access to his life - a life that many people can relate to. And it's great that there are a few story-like interludes (think Kanye's College Dropout outro) through various places of the mixtape that give you insight into how J. NIC$ got to where he got to at this point in time.

Mixtape: J. NIC$ - Dirty Sneakers

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David "Dro" Rosario