The newest first lady of New Orleans hip-hop, 3D Na’Tee (Samantha Davon James), demands to be heard with her piercing, impactful rap-lyricism in The Regime, her first official full-length studio album, independently released with pride on August 1st via her own self-titled imprint. This incredible emcee has been developing her skills since she was a child growing up in NOLA’s 3rd Ward, and now, fans of real rap will see that all those years of training were very well worth it. She has collaborated extensively, having left her mark on other spitters’ joints, and was lured with no success to serve under the labels of Timbaland, Birdman, Russell Simmons and Steve Rifkind among others but like a true champ, she remained a freelance (and professional) rhyme-writer/reciter through it all, as she is here. Not only does she bring fine bars and lyrics in this nice long album (twenty-five tracks and around eighty-two minutes in duration), but she flaunts admirable maturity and a commitment to grow herself mentally and socially.
It properly features original comprehensive beat-production blending samples and the best hip-hop trends of the modern era, but it is without a doubt Na’Tee’s impeccable verses that take the cake. Consider yourself warned of her coming reign. Surprisingly open about her life and affairs, Na’Tee is also strongly against fitting into stereotypes, including those that revolve around female rappers. She is staunchly opposed to body enhancements and women giving sexual favors in return for career advancement. She is in search of love but also explains the importance of preserving self and being sexually wise, not to mention musically autonomous. Plus she shares that she has been betrayed by cheating men in the past in “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “Deserve Me” featuring T. Cherrelle.
The storytelling and messages, as you could guess, are out of this world and major sources for success here. In the deep, multilayered tale within “Maria,” she tells of her competitive relationship with a childhood friend by that name who takes a dark path later in life and ultimately falls on very hard times as Na’Tee tragically discovers. Later she puts a modern day twist and shares her take on relationship specters in “No Pressure” (ft. Jhene Aiko), forming a less strict, less demanding new policy on finding chemistry with a mate there.
In examining the downslide of American civilization currently, she is gravely concerned about the poor intellect, mental decay and the drop in sophistication among the poverty classes of America in “Young America.” She discusses growing up economically depressed in “Rich Dad Poor Dad” but nobly steers us away from the traditional route of wage-slavery in that same song. Continuing with this classy, courageous “controversiality,” she discourages going for flashy superficial materialism, sky-high money and consumerism, as she picks honor and art over a big record deal and rejects empty money-based pipe-dreaming in “Industry Negus.” From a purely lessons-based standpoint, those are hands down the three best records on the album.
“Running Away” finds 3D Na’Tee wrestling and yet dealing with some of her own significant mental burdens, and in “Authentic,” she owns her own brand instead of letting a private business entity do it for her with impropriety. She will not buy into or sellout for the BS. Her “Miseducation” and title track end The Regime with sheer wisdom, resolve and more notice to us of her arrival. Na’Tee surely has love and kindness in her soul, but it’s so much fun to hear her tear apart her competition with her ripping condescension, honed from years of battle-rapping as a youth. She is an amazing lyricist with fiercely creative lines of entertaining metaphors (name-drops included) and a ton of very respectable wordplay, all rifled off without a hitch, backed by her everlasting stamina and vocal endurance. Still, she is at her best when she focuses on undoing social ills with the power of her words and actions. With her stories and values, she gives us every reason to be independent of mind. Now it’s up to us to take after her example.
5 out of 5 stars