Nonchalant was an emcee from Washington D.C. who came on the scene in the mid-nineties and made her mark with her socially conscious gold selling debut single, “5 O’Clock”. The chart-topping single will always define her rap career, and she still rests her laurels on it, which is evident if you check out her Instagram page, as her heading reads: “We met @ 5 O’Clock In the morning in ‘96. Certified gold record selling artist.” Nearly two months after releasing “5 O’Clock”, Nonchalant would release her debut album, Until The Day on MCA Records in March of 1996.
Nonchalant would call on the relatively unknown production team of B.L.A.K. Production aka Trax by B.L.A.K. (comprised of DeWayne “Bam” Staten Sr, Alonzo “Lonnie” Simmons, Jr. and Kapin L. Ferguson, Jr.) to sculpt most of the sound of Until The Day, with a few other hands involved, including a couple of credits going to the late Chucky Thompson, who was part of the Bad Boy Hitmen Production crew. Unfortunately, Until The Day didn’t match the commercial success of “5 O’Clock”, and after a few changes in management at MCA, Nonchalant would get lost in the shuffle before ever getting a chance to record and release a second album. She would eventually ask to be released from her deal with the label and go on to record a few songs for a couple different soundtracks (her Pete Rock produced record with MC Lyte, Bahamadia and Yo-Yo on the Dangerous Ground Soundtrack is dope), but would soon find herself out of the game and back to working a 9 to 5, cutting and packaging meat at a D.C. grocery store.
Speaking of packaging, MCA definitely put money into the packaging of Until The Day, as the CD format comes with an elaborate six-page insert, complete with quality photos of Nonchalant (who vaguely resembles Ashanti) in a few different outfit changes. Hopefully, the music matches the quality of the packaging.
Intro – The evening starts with a chilled, slightly dark instrumental and one of Nonchalant’s mans introducing her to the listening audience. I appreciate the enthusiasm he shows for his girl’s art, but he gets a little carried away when he refers to her as “a legend” after releasing just one hit single.
It’s All Love – The first song of the night features a breezy Chucky Thompson produced instrumental that sounds built for “insert female r&b singer’s name here.” Instead of singing over it, Nonchalant raps to and about a guy that she’s feeling, but apparently, he’s sending her mixed signals. This was an interesting way to follow up all the hype that Nonchalant’s man gave her on the intro, but it was still cool. Mainly due to CT’s pretty soundscape.
Crab Rappers – Nonchalant’s in battle mode on this one, looking to take out all wack emcees aka crab rappers, not to be confused with crab apples. The B.L.A.K. Production team hooks up a silky smooth synth instrumental, punctuated by a doom pending bass line, as our hostess commences to be the “hot sauce” to your “chicken”, while she “kicks a funky flow like a bowl of raw chitlins”; and I’m curious who the bar “Smilin’, while you’re robbin’ me for my stylin’, you need to stop before you find your grave on Long Island” was aimed at (hmmm…). Nonchalant’s battle bars are decent enough, though I’m sure L-Boogie nor Latifah were shaking in their boots after hearing this.
5 O’Clock – As I mentioned in the opening of this post, this was the album’s lead single and the biggest hit in Nonchalant’s limited catalog. Chalant uses the darkish backdrop, which is carried by a dense and bleak bass line that sounds very similar to the bass line used on “Crab Rappers”, to plead with the Black man to stop killing each other and the Black community through selling drugs. A couple of dudes (which the liner notes credit to Raguel “Bink” Dill and Andre “Smoovy” Harrison) rebuttal Chalant’s plea, explaining why they play in the ghetto streets, before she closes out the song with one more verse calling for the end of this genocide mission. The hook is both corny and catchy, Nonchalant’s message is honorable, and this record has held up pretty well over the past twenty-six years.
Lookin’ Good To Me – Nonchalant dedicates this one to a “sexy brown brotha” (her words, not mine) that’s got her wide open. So much so that she’s calling his name in her sleep and she’s “memorized the tag number on his jeep”, which sounds a little stalkerish, but no judgment. She lets him know during the second verse: “I don’t wanna press, but I must confess, that it won’t take long before the lifting of the dress”, and she’s even okay with him having kids, as long as the baby mama isn’t still trying to be with him, bringing unwanted drama into her life (the adlib of Nonchalant calling this baby mama, that she’s not even sure exist, a “dumb ass bitch” is hi-larious). Chalant’s cadence, delivery and bars kind of sound like Da Brat back when she was pretending to be into men, but the flow works well with this funky instrumental.
Kickin’ It With Non – Nonchalant and her homeboy chop it up on this short and useless interlude.
Have A Good Time – Our hostess is in party mode on this one, ready to hit the streets with her peeps and have some fun running through the club scene on the weekend. The mellow vibes of the music kind of contradict the party mood Chalant describes in her rhymes, but I enjoyed it; especially when the creamy piano loop comes in.
Lights N’ Sirens – Nonchalant dedicates this one to all the racist and crooked cops that she’s personally encountered and that unjustly harass and brutalize the Black community. For some reason, Chalant decides to rap her bars in a whisper of a voice, as if the po-po were in the next room when she was laying down her rhymes for this song. The jazz piano led quiet storm instrumental, which I liked, was an odd choice to back her content, but this was still a decent record.
Non Interlude – A manufactured laidback jazzy instrumental plays while some uncredited singers softly tell the listener to “relax your mind”, and the soothing music makes that request easy to follow.
Until The Day – The title track is built around a scrumptious semi-bluesy Chucky Thompson instrumental that finds Chalant and her guest, Quasim Baptiste discussing this struggle called life and walking in your destiny…I think. Chalant’s rhymes get a little hard to follow on this one. Chalant invites a couple of guests (George Franklin Jackson III and Michelle Blackwell) to sing the hook (built around a portion of Stevie Wonder’s record “As”) and punctuate this somber groove.
Mr. Good Stuff – Nonchalant pretty much picks up where she left off at on “Lookin’ Good To Me”. This time around she’s lusting for the Ving Rhames type: “bald head, strong back and not a weak mind.” I wasn’t crazy about this one, but I’m sure I wasn’t her target demographic, either. She does reference A Tribe Called Quest song (see the first verse: “In the back of my mind I’m thinkin’ sex on a platter”), so at least I can check off Tribe Degrees of Separation for this post.
Thank You – Over an earnest and airy backdrop (credited to a Mark Murray, with a co-production credit going to Leonardo Pettis, who adds a few adlibs to the track as well) our hostess raps and sings praise to her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, without ever saying his name. Nonchalant’s singing on the hook was both solid and catchy, plus I don’t think I’ll ever dislike a song that gives thanks to God.
Outro – Nonchalant and company bring back the instrumental from the “Non Interlude”, putting the finishing touches on Until The Day.
Nonchalant’s name may never be mentioned amongst the top tier of female emcees (and it probably shouldn’t be), but make no mistake about it, the girl could rap. No, she won’t hit you over the head with mesmerizing lyrics or get your hormones racing with over-the-top sexual content, but on Until The Day she delivers competent bars, playing her role as an even balanced everyday Jane, tackling social issues, love, lust, inspiration and occasionally, she brags and boasts on some true emcee shit. Nonchalant’s proficient rhymes are backed by a pristine batch of synthesized instrumentals that mostly sound nice behind her flow. Until The Day is not flawless nor a classic, but it’s a solid enough debut to have justified a follow up album. Then again, maybe she was just too nonchalant for this industry.