Together, rapper Noveliss and beatmaker Dixon Hill have crafted a remarkable collaboration on Book of Changes.
Drawing from spiritual as well as intellectual themes, the duo take inspiration from the I Ching, with each track represented by a hexagram from each section of the literary piece. Elegantly flowing and impactful lyrics are matched with captivating soundscapes, ambiences, and beats produced by Hill, making for a powerful production that elevates its source of inspiration.
Beginning with the serene and ethereal ‘Empty’, the listener is transported into a scene blending natural sounds (running water), chiming bells, and crunchy steps as the canvas on which Noveliss paints his words. His entry is marked by scattered bass and comforting samples, delivering the momentum for the track.
Track two sets the general tone for the album. ‘Feng Shui’ is a sharply cut piece powered by banging hip-hop beats and a real showcase of lyrical and rapping prowess from Noveliss. His intuitive understanding of space and emphasis with respect to the lyrics is remarkable.
Lo-fi, piano backdrops pour in on ‘Sincerity & Reverence’, and the laidback words from Noveliss take a more personal note here; meanwhile, ‘Scheimenonameanin’ contemplates the purpose of life. ‘Truthsayer’ carries a similar lo-fi feeling, this time placed against a cleverly sampled and processed beat that imbues the track with an infectious energy and unique vibe.
The lo-fi tones continue on the second-last track, ‘Cold Mountain’, which rattles off a barrage of wisdom and meditations, while things get a bit moodier on ‘Escaping’ with its message of taking life as it comes, good or bad. Noveliss’ explorations throughout the LP cover everything from American history, the Black experience, Taoist wisdom, and more, making for a varied and deep experience.
Overall, Book of Changes is an example of a novel musical concept done well. The chemistry between the two is evident, as Noveliss seamlessly wraps his words around Hill’s tastefully organized beats, samples, and production.