The Niceguys
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The Niceguys

Houston, Texas, United States

Houston, Texas, United States
Hip Hop Progressive


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Inglorious Basterds"

1. The Niceguys Released One of the Very Best Rap Albums of the Year, Anywhere: James Kelley is on par with any of America's top tapes that came out this year: powerful, lethal, unencumbered, perfectly done. With zero accommodations or attempts at placation, the Niceguys did only what they wanted to do creatively, and what they wanted to do creatively was right every single time. The production was as smart and high-end as the rapping, with moments that butted up against the gods ("265 (Inglorious Basterds)," "Overtoast") and moments that touched rings with the demons ("Live a Little," "War Eagle"). If they never make an album better than this, that will be completely okay. - The Houston Press

"Inside The Niceguys' Dark, Earth-Shattering James Kelley Listening Party"

Monday night in front of a small gathering of hand-picked compatriots and friends, The Niceguys allowed their recording home of Wire Road Studios to turn into an open house. The multi-million dollar recording palace rolled out its carpet complete with television sets, dining areas and a patio just for the Houston foursome who just repeated as Houston Press Music Award winner for "Best Rap Group."

"This feels like our real debut album," said resident Niceguys producer Free, clad in his usual high socks and shorts. "We want people to keep guessing how the album sounds to them."

The night was for James Kelley, the group's much-publicized EP turned full-fledged sophomore album and for the man himself who, as inconspicuous as he is, relishes the fact that his inherited family of a kid from New York City, two from Dallas and Beaumont, and a resident Chopstar came together and created synergy under his roof.
After being welcomed in personally by Free and helped to plenty of finger food of Italian sausage rolls, barbecue wings and other tasty pleasantries, the school of fish who had heard only brief singles from JK were huddled into the main sound room.

Playful jokers and serious musicians all in the same frame, the session was primarily handled by Yves, the group's emcee and most notable face, considering his voice is the prevalent one on the majority of the tracks. He cracked jokes, remarked on how the first time Free got drunk wound up becoming a single of its own, how two guest features asked to pay but he turned them down (kidding), how he makes constant "NYC but I'm in Houston" references and more, truly in a purely anecdotal mood throughout.

Some interesting quirks that separate James Kelley from The Show:
It's Darker: From the opening rattle that is "War Eagle" on to "Magick," the crew refuses to let their foot off of the neck of the listener. Spaced-out and expansive, Cristolph and Free have obviously taken their production cues from the soundtracks and soundscapes that litter every other form of media not restricted to rap.

True, Free's love for boom bap and easy to catch beat-boxing moments are still there, but he and Cristolph have been sharing a batch of drugs you can't even describe to craft these tracks. There is no album from Houston sounding like this, not as luxurious or grimy and not as stacked.

It's almost as if they played reverse Jenga with every track, even those taken from when the group still called the Moody Towers at UH their home and built upon them for this exact album.

"War Eagle" is like taking Auburn's fight song and giving it a Molly, a bottle of Jagermeister and telling it to go out and win one. "Ain't Life Grand" came with an anecdote from Yves about the song being created around a track Cristolph gave him on 4/20 with sneaky 808s and floor-rattling vibes and this was sequenced before "Ari Gold."Slim Thug and Bun B Make Cameos: Yes, JK actually has rap features. Which also means, someone actually found a way to wrestle control from Yves on the microphone.
Not saying that's a terrible thing, because in all honesty he's one of the best in Houston if not one of the more underrated rappers in the country. For his lone production credit on the album, DJ Candlestick gives us his best Pharrell circa 2007, using heavy percussions to reel Thugga and newcomer Melanie in on "Married To The Mob."

If you ever wanted a sense of how that Skateboard P/Thug Boss partnership would have worked in 2012, here's your evidence. Also, the hardhittingslapyourgoddamnface remix to "Ari Gold" is here with Bun B. I'd still argue that this is the Trill OG's best verse of 2012 in a year where he's delivered plenty good ones.

Concepts, Concepts, Concepts: Hazy Ray puts their two cents in on "Thinkin Big" which feels like New Orleans jazz decided to wash itself in the ambition and drive of NYC, "Right Hook" lists off some of the greatest righties in boxing history, and "Never End" is Yves most personal relationship record.

If "Things Ain't The Same" was radio-ready from the chorus, "Never End" sprawls out with Nick Greer behind the piano keys playing Kelley's favorite chords to the right pitch. Each section of tracks in four-piece blocks gets separated by "Interludes" by Free, calming elevator music that sometimes may mistake itself for leftovers from Frank Ocean's channel ORANGE release.

The album's spontaneous highlight may not even truly make the album. Once Yves finished telling stories and setting up every single song with an anecdote to be met with laughs and twirled with remembrance from the other Niceguys, Cristolph pulled out his iPad and played a low-fi creation entitled "1996."
It's part drunken freestyle, part - The Houston Press

"10 New Houston Rappers To Watch Out out For"

Pros: Consistently excellent production; Yves, the ringleader, is basically the coolest, cockiest guy that's ever been. DUDEBROS, HE'S A BLACK GUY NAMED YVES.

Cons: They might be living in the wrong city.

Essential Listening: James Kelley

One rapper (Yves, from New York) plus one DJ (Candlestick, from Texas) plus two producers (Free and Cristoph, also from Texas) and that's how you get The Niceguys, a group that operates in stark contrast to the traditional southern rap typography.

Over the past five or so years, they've built an emotive, brazen brand of nuevo-rap, one that's rooted in an unspoken competition between Yves and the producer duo. Last year, they got the balance exactly right and produced James Kelley, a sleeper contender for "best album that nearly everybody slept-on." It was smart and fun and interesting and fully vetted. - Complex Magazine

"The Niceguys - How To Make a Rap Video"

October 27, 2010
The Niceguys - How To Make a Rap Video

by Daniella Kohavy

When the term hip-hop comes to mind, you might think of the countless commercial sounds you hear all over the droning radio airwaves, but when good hip-hop comes to mind, you would most likely stumble across The Niceguys, who are the Tunecore artists featured in this week's COREnered spotlight. The hip-hop group includes 4 dudes straight outta Houston: MC (Yves 'Easy Yves Saint' Ozoude), DJ (Lucien 'DJ Candlestick' Barton) and producers (Todd 'Christolph' Louis and Winfrey 'Free' Oribhabor). They have an eclectic musical background and therefore know how to blend alternative jazz/rock sounds with their delectable beats and fluid rhyme schemes. Feast your eyes on the band's Q&A below to see what they had to say about inspiration, recording and good music.

1. Without using the words "alternative" or "hip-hop," describe your music's sound.
Our sound is progressive, our debut album “The Show” is a mixture of soul, rock, jazz, blues, and rap music all in one album. Of course at the end of the day its all hip hop (even though I can't use that word) but it's hip hop with a mixture of a lot of different elements. Progressive hip hop is what I classify it as, but I don't really care for genres/subgenres or any of that stuff, at the end of the day it's just really good music.

2. What or whom do you go to for musical inspiration?
We really don't go anywhere for inspiration, we kind of just let it come to us. Some of the best things we've done came from completely out of nowhere, and I think it works out the best that way. Of course, me and Christolph as producers, listen to certain sounds and certain records when we put our beats together; I play a lot of jazz, progressive rock and soul when I'm getting in the zone for my beats. Besides that, we just let the inspiration come naturally and don't necessarily seek it.

3. You've had some recent shows, in Houston with Talib Kweli, Smoke DZA, Curren$y and at New York's CMJ. How do you deal with time management, missing friends and family, work schedule (aside from music), etc?
We made the decision about 2 years ago to fully dedicate our lives to music. All of our families are aware, friends are aware, and we don't really work regular jobs anyway so work schedule doesn't mean much. The best thing about our situation is that no one is tripping, our loved ones all understand that this is our dream and it's going to require a lot of time away from them, but they support us and our careers so it's never an issue when we go on the road or when we're in the studio all day. Everyone is cool.

4. Describe your ideal studio environment (in home? professional studio?)
Our ideal studio environment is our current studio environment. Our good friend, super-engineer/musician, James Kelley, owns a studio called Wire Road, and that's where we do all of our music. It's a house with a studio in it basically, so its always an at home feeling when we're at the studio, which is perfect for us. Lots of beer, lots of Jack Daniels, and lots of pizza. That's how we get down! ha

5. How often do you guys try to put in studio time?
Whenever we feel like it really, which is usually every day. Our engineer is available whenever we need to record, so we do it whenever we get inspired to start working on a record. If I could give a rough estimate, I'd say probably about 4-5 days a week.

6. What kind of studio equipment do you use to record?
Haha, good question, you'd have to ask our engineer about that. It's a whole lot of equipment, all I know is Pro Tools.

7. How do you approach recording a song?
Well, Christolph and I come up with a beat, we play it for Yves, come up with some ideas, Yves starts freestyling random lyrics, we get down a concrete idea and chorus, and Yves writes his verses, then the magic happens.

8. What do you do if you're trying to record and it's just not working for you?
We find something else to do, one of our rules is to never force music, ever.

9. How do you know when it's right?
It's just a feeling; you record, and after you record, you mix, and after you mix, you master. Mastering is a tedious process, but you listen, listen, and listen all over again, then we collectively discuss the record, see how we feel. If we all love it, the song is done, and it's on to the next.
- TuneCore

"The Niceguys-The Show"

Rappers in the “Lone Star State” have long been known for their appeasement of candy-painted rides, chopped and screwed vibes and an overall emphasis of southern hospitality. Breaking this ceremonious mold, Houston-based quartet The Niceguys (Easy Yves Saint, DJ Candlestick, Christolph and Free) have made a name for themselves by providing universally-crafty records attuned to the younger Hip Hop fans online. Contrasting their humorous video series with a steady appetite for the studio, it would make sense for the group’s debut album to be fairly light and entertaining, yet professional in approach. That’s exactly what ensues on The Show.

As the mouth piece of The Niceguys, Easy Yves Saint personifies their theme of “performance and energy with a dash of awesomeness” nicely. Whether he’s administering a verbal hex on haters with “Contraverses” or getting his celebratory fix on “Toast,” Saint’s radiant delivery carries an assertive tone that is comparable to veteran emcees. Unfortunately, what turns out to be Yves Saint’s biggest flaw is his ostentatious lyricism that seemingly has no implicit value. Take “The Good Shepherd” in which he raps, “Must I remind you, getting behind dude / Like being blind with a good seeing eye to guide you / I’m a dog, four legs but stand on my hind two / Don’t bark, rather I spark my ‘K’ and my nine too.” Sure, the word play looks good on paper, but the constant metaphors interferes with the message he is trying to get across. Then on “It’s Like That,” Saint bewilders the listener with a clumsy homophone barrage; “Brakes loose, no brakes, we break rules / And we don’t use the brakes, I break her off until the break of dawn.” Examples like this hinder an otherwise respectable performance from the Queens-to-Houston rapper.

While Christolph and Free “share” production duties for The Niceguys, Christolph’s volume of work on the album is a sign of whose beats worked best for The Show. Characteristically soulful and upbeat, the aforementioned “Toast” is an instant head-bobbing record layered with synth keys, drums and horns galore. In stark contrast, the aggressively Rock-induced “Mr. Perfect” shows the range of Christolph’s creations. However, it’s his work on “Things Ain’t The Same” and “On This Road” that provide the album superb audible context. On the former track, Christolph matches Easy Yves Saint’s disappointed lyrics over the loss of a girlfriend with a dejected guitar riff melody that brings out the emotion of record. On the latter, it’s his addition of an alluring flute that thrusts the journey-filled narrative forward. To be fair, Free’s contributions are not too shabby either as production for the album-ending “Curtains” properly fits the vibe of the record.

With musical peaks and valleys, The Show is an admirable debut for a group that has yet to tap into their full potential. Still, the question at hand is whether they can become a staple figure in a genre that sees too many new artists come and go. Whatever the case, The Niceguys have become an interesting group to watch in the near future. - HipHopDX

"The Niceguys – ‘The Show’ (Review)"

Yes, The Niceguys are based in Houston, but don’t let this fool you; there’s nothing pop-lock-and-droppin’ about this thoroughbred hip-hop crew. The Niceguys make it evident from the title-track opener of their full-length offering, The Show, that this is not going to be an exercise in frivolous nursery rhymes. There is something very genuine about The Niceguys, whose core aim is to entertain and have fun with energetic hip-hop.

Following the title of the album, The Show actually plays out much like an actual hip-hop show. There is a brief introduction that leads right into the party-starter, “Toast”. Although the sing-songy hooks leave a bit to be desired, the production is full-throttle, and prepares the listener for the remainder of the album. The album concludes with the appropriately titled, “Curtains”.

And, much like many hip-hop concerts that don’t venture far from the traditional, there are ups and downs in The Show. The Niceguys thrive under a verse-hook-verse structure, and it is on this basis that much of the album is built. Therefore, when the hooks are strong, the tracks tend to follow suit. Take “Things Ain’t The Same” for example; the hook is catchy, but doesn’t overwhelm or detract from the superb lyrics being delivered as the emcees wax poetic about loves lost. It’s one of the many tracks on The Show that unveils the multi-faceted persona of The Niceguys.

At the same time, The Niceguys are clever. From a production standpoint, they rely on heavy drums and thumping basslines. Tracks are layered with smooth grooves, such as on the mellow “Cave”, which sheds light on the backwards politics of the inner-city (perhaps better known as the code of the streets?). Lyrically, they can drop lines that are insightful directly alongside topically comical lines relevant to modern technology. Check the Tumblr mention in “Die Later”.

However, The Niceguys do play it safe throughout The Show. There is no truly innovative progression here, which holds the album back from being terrific. Although Yves is certainly a talented emcee, his rhymes play by the rules, sometimes painfully so (rare, but still). Furthermore, the beats are standard. At their best they are certified bangers, perfectly suited for a party atmosphere or a summer night joyride. At their worst, the beats are fair – rough around the edges and uninspired.

All in all, there is more than enough worthy content here to make The Show an engaging and enjoyable listen, and The Niceguys a formidable group in the new age of hip-hop. There are numerous bright moments indicating that The Niceguys have a strong future ahead of them.

"album review: the niceguys – the show (2010)"

The Niceguys aren’t exactly the type of hip-hop collective that you would expect to be from Houston. Granted, the emcee Easy Yves Saint is a Queens native, but you still have Christolph and Free on the production side of things, and they are both Texas natives. In an industry where record sales are low and typically, nice guys finish last (ahem), one must really take into consideration the blatant risk these boys are taking by releasing their debut LP, The Show, for free. We’re talking years of ideas, rhymes and beats being given away at the drop of a hat. At the same time, after hearing a debut LP of this stature and the confidence that has fueled its release, you realize that it isn’t that surprising.

In a way, The Niceguys embrace the dichotomy that makes hip-hop so great. Many of the album’s hooks are highly accessible and ready for public consumption (“Toast,” “It’s Like That”), which seems almost necessary nowadays to rake in new fans. Turn the other cheek, and you’ll find Easy Yves Saint’s verbal fluidity (“Members Only”) and the use of wordplay (“The Good Shepherd”) that would embarrass many of today’s biggest rappers. Producers Christolph and Free provide a musical backdrop that sounds like a major-label budget was utilized to the fullest extent; rich in everything from live instrumentation to the good old sampling and thumping bass of the east coast.

Some of the album’s best tracks lie in the biggest risks, especially when it comes to a hip-hop group out of Houston, TX. Within the opening seconds of “Things Ain’t the Same,” it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing if you were to double take; , mainly because it’s a hip-hop song driven by guitar and isn’t cheesy. “On the Road” channels one part Kill Bill, one part Wu-Tang Clan and manages to be a highlight, despite clocking in at over 7 minutes. And granted, sampling or quoting Fight Club isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, but they manage to make it work on the album’s lead single, “Mr. Perfect.”

And when it comes to criticize, there are slim pickings. As much as we could do without a redux of sampling Lee Fields’ “My World is Empty,” (see: J. Cole’s “World is Empty”) The Niceguys manage to set their interpretation on “Caves,” thanks largely in part to the song’s hook. “Somebody” feels like that ‘one song’ that was put on the record for the ladies, and comes off a tad bit contrived and forced.

Even though it’s way too early to tell, it feels like The Niceguys are prepared for this industry. They embrace every genre from Soul to Rock to that beautiful turn-of-the-century hip-hop. Their wide array of influences has given the group its footing early on, and will undoubtedly only lead to bigger and better things. And quite simply put, The Show is one the most cohesive and rewarding listens you’ll have this year.

Grade: A - Weworemaks


Still working on that hot first release.



They say that nice guys finish last, but four young men repping Houston, Texas are out to prove that saying wrong. Through beats, rhymes, and musings about life, The Niceguys are musically what’s happening now. A self-contained unit, the four-man group comprises MC (Yves ‘Easy Yves Saint’ Ozoude), DJ (Lucien ‘DJ Candlestick’ Barton) and producers (Todd ‘Christolph’ Louis and Winfrey ‘Free’ Oribhabor).

The Niceguys sound harbors Southern roots with musical sensibilities that stretch far beyond the city’s limits. With the September 11, 2012 release of James Kelley, they hope to further push the sonic envelope of today’s Hip-Hop.

“James Kelley is simply, a really fun album,” explains Free. “It’s more detailed musically than our previous efforts, and more well-rounded. We’ve grown a lot musically; our records are a lot stronger now than they were back in 2010.”

The project initially started as an EP, comprised of old and new tracks. However, it took on a life of its own and evolved into one long-playing new project.

“I feel like we have covered a lot of ground and as far as the sound of the album,” adds Christolph. “It’s very timeless in my opinion, and there is musically something for every type of listener.” The project covers all angles of Hip Hop, “from screw-influence to backpacker Hip Hop sh*t,” as DJ Candlestick says. “People are going to end up seeing that we are not classifiable,” continues Yves.

The four met in the halls of the University of Houston, with Free, Candlestick, and Christolph all being Texan natives, and Yves originally hailing from Queens, New York. In 2007, the Niceguys released their debut project in the form of a mixtape, Niceguys Finish Last Vol. 1. Two years later, The Green Room arrived, which was the catalyst for the Niceguys’ inevitable critical acclaim. As the seven-track free EP fluidly mixed soulful rhythms with traditional boom-bappery, it also set the stage for 2010’s The Show.

All of the previous projects show a natural progression for the group, bettering their work with each release. Their creative personalities, however, are more clearly cut and defined on James Kelley.

Each member brings his own flavor to the mix, with Free carrying a positive, optimistic vibe to the circle. “He keeps his thinktank full of Niceguys’ ideas,” says Christolph of Free. Meanwhile Christolph is Mr. Sarcasm, but like Free is an incredibly talented producer. Yves, being the oldest member is often called the dad of the group, “and he can rap his ass off too,” says Christolph.

DJ Candlestick holds it all together. “Candlestick, is without a doubt one of the best DJ’s I’ve seen. He’s very skilled, and technically sound, you just have to hear him spin to really understand it,” says Free of Candlestick’s turntable skills. While they make beautiful music together, it’s clear that they’re all genuinely friends as well.

While often times Hip Hop can feel inaccessible to some, The Niceguys craft a sound that everyone can relate to. “We are just regular dudes, we’re genuine,” says Free. Their “people first” mentality trickles into their music, which represents everyday people, while at the same time reinventing the wheel sonically. Always nice to fans, the group prides themselves on being down to earth.

“I just wish our female fans wouldn’t constantly rip my clothes off my body while I perform. Plus it sucks being hit in the face by panties the whole time you’re on stage,” jokes Christolph.

Described as “delicious,” “fattening,” “swaggy,” and “impregnable” by the group, James Kelley will undoubtedly attract new fans while sating original ones. Tracks like “Magic” hold a perfect balance of Yves’ skillful rhymes hugged by Christolph’s thorough production, while “Married To the Mob” was years in the making, showcasing Candlestick on the beat.

“Ain’t Life Grand” was Yves’ dedication to Christolph, detailing how to overcome life’s obstacles. The tracks run the gamut of topics from poignant to smart, and of course, how to have a good time. As Yves is the wordsmith of the group, his comfort on his bandmates’ production is evident, and the result is pure harmony. Most importantly, though, the music is fun – something Hip Hop has been missing for quite some time.

While most artists take an entire career to find their signature sound, The Niceguys have found theirs in less than five years. Their music is more than just typical Rap, and any fan of any genre can appreciate the labor of love that is James Kelley.

For those who have slept on The Niceguys, it’s time to wake up and check out your next favorite album from your new favorite group. While James Kelley is geared to be a lot of things to a lot of people, Christolph puts it best: “this album will be the soundtrack to all of the wrong choices you make.”