Nef The Pharaoh & Cardo – Neffy Got Wings (Throwback Thursday Review)

Nef The Pharaoh’s drop of “Big Tymin” garnered him much praise. Being able to blend the influences of NOLA Big Tymers with his own brand of hyphy while repping Vallejo, his sound felt equally new & old. Not only was the song a smash that earned a remix with Ty Dolla $ign & YG, but everything he was releasing at the time was untouchable. The EP that spawned this song from this song & the solo mixtape that followed it are still some his best work to date. Among those releases, however, was a full collaborative album with super-producer Cardo.

Not only does Cardo have one of the most memorable tags in the game, but he also has one of the deepest production discographies imaginable. With credits under his belt with the likes of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott & The Game to name a few, he manages to have one of the most diverse catalogues. He’s able to create plenty of modern mainstream work while also making smooth West Coast music, despite being from Minnesota. His broad range of sounds & influences make every project he’s involved in fresh.

With so many different influences coming from both ends, the two bring so much to the table. Cardo brings a west coast funk that feels timeless & Nef brings these uninitiated bars with a bay area flow that sounds born out of the Bling Era. Nef’s voice can be odd for the uninitiated, but that’s also what makes him so appealing. Every time he touches a track he shines, with his delivery never being bland & always emotive. His singing voice is surprising strong too, specifically on “Big Chang Chang.”

He gets cosigns from other West Coast legends like Philthy Rich & Mozzy. Nef’s song with Philthy Rich is deep bass banger, with bass slides going downward to make for an iconic track. Philthy’s verse is fresh as ever, sounding right at home at the track. The instrumental on the Mozzy track may not be as strong, but the verses on it make up for it. Mozzy being one of the most consistent on the West makes for a track filled bars about the street lifestyle.

A track that gets carried over from his debut EP is “Michael Jackson,” which is one of his best tracks to date. Drawing his influences from Michael Jackson, Nef brings these autotuned bars about how his hero brought him inspiration to do what he does. While tracks like that are light in their tone, tracks like “Wake Up” are dark with lyrics about the connected street life. Not only is he wearing his life on his sleeve, but he also states that he’s here to reclaim the Bay’s sound that has been ripped off by so many intimidators.

Other later work of his would never be as strong, but Neffy Got Wings stays a strong project in general to this day. His projects with producers like The Tonite Show would see his sound going even further back in time, sounding like an early 90s Bay rap record, but on this one he hit the right balance. He sounds like a true student that immensely studied the work of Too $hort & E-40, proven by his signing to E-40’s record label. This project is elevated by Cardo’s production as well, making each track right to Nef’s strengths no matter what style he employs. Not only does this release remain one of the best Bay Rap releases of its year, but it also remains one of the best releases of that year in general.

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