The digital age has made it possible for artists to record and release their music at a stunningly rapid rate. Hip-hop, in particular, has embraced this accelerated production schedule in the form of mixtapes—quick, responsive albums that can be streamed or downloaded mere moments after their creation. But that doesn’t mean mixtapes are tossed-off demos. Take the new mixtape/EP from Milwaukee rapper El-Shareef, Nonchalant, the follow-up to this spring’s Retrospective 2: Freeworld. Despite its title, it’s an assured and robust album that should put the young musician on the city’s shortlist of artists to watch. (As for the difference between mixtapes and EPs, even El-Shareef cops to some confusion. “It’s probably not an EP, it’s probably just a tape,” he says in the spoken intro.)
If there’s one thing about Nonchalant that is nonchalant, it’s El-Shareef’s laid-back flow. Still, that flow serves the rapper well on the glistening “Still Trippin” and the hazy “Peachy, Enough.” On those tracks and others, El-Shareef distinguishes himself from many other area hip-hop artists with blunt, NSFW lyrics that are nonetheless sharp, sometimes funny, and slyly delivered. “Viewer discretion is advised,” warns El-Shareef on the really NSFW “Lowrys.” Listen for yourself below.