Written by Carlynn Young
Releasing the ‘Nite Shift’ EP on February 29, 2020, a leap year, it is evident that Chicago artist Tre Johnson and producer Mudd strive to be remembered in unconventional ways. With Johnson beginning writing his raps and poetry at just 13-years-old and producer Mudd beginning his break into the industry at 17-years-old, hard work has begun to pay off for the now 24-year-old rapper and 23-year-old producer.
Tre Johnson prides himself on being open and honest in his music, and this recent EP release is no exception of that. Using the project as a form of self-therapy, listeners get a firsthand account of what goes on inside of his mind as he navigates the world around him.
This is especially brought to life with the project’s producer, Mudd, who prides himself on being able to take the energy in a room and turn that into a track that both listeners and artists can find themselves vibing to enough to paint a scene.
With attentive and patient ears, listeners will find themselves in a space of relatability and reflection as many of the project’s tracks provide insight and focus on what it takes to make it in an industry that doesn’t consistently offer equal opportunity to succeed and grow.
Equipped with raw beats and incredibly well thought-out lyrics, ‘Nite Shift’ is full of potential summer hits and sentiment.
A further track-by-track analysis is (in my opinion) the only proper way to speak on this project release, as each track has its own importance and tells its own story.
Track One: Give me Space
Serving as the project’s opener, “Give Me Space” seems to be a firsthand account by Tre Johnson of the pressures faced while trying to find and forge his own path in the music industry. He touches on the excitement of it all but also the need to take a step back and have moments for himself. When it comes to this track, listeners can expect a few things.
You can expect to feel Tre Johnson’s hunger to make it in the industry.
You can also come to expect to see Johnson not only setting the experience for the EP’s entire feel but managing to engrain his name into any minds that decide to partake in the musical journey.
My biggest take away from this track: stressing isn’t going to get you anywhere. If you want real success or real improvement in what you’re doing, you might have to let a few situations and people in your life go. That’s something that serves us well to remember.
Track Two: What’s Hatnin’
“What’s Hatnin’” is my favorite song on the Nite Shift EP. Maybe it's because of hype added by the ad libs or maybe because it's an all around BOP (and no I’m not talking about Da Baby).
For the duration of “What’s Hatnin”, Johnson chooses to bring in two other Chicago artists, showcasing the diversity in the sound and flow that the city has to offer.
Mark my words:
This song will be the song of the summer.
What I find is done well on this track is the showcasing of the confidence and dedication that he has as a creator. Whether you find yourself vibing with his sound or not, that’s something that can’t be denied. The track plays into the rise and growth that Johnson has experienced as an artist. This shows from not only the spotlight that he shines on the other talents within the song but also in the track’s lyricism and exuberant feel.
Track Three: Came Between
Serving as the project’s halfway point, the unpredictability of “Came Between” serves Johnson well as an artist. When it comes to this track, its experimentation is my favorite element of it. While it may not deliver a specific message or serve a significant purpose to those listening, sometimes you just need to be able to vibe without thinking.
This is the song for that.
This won’t necessarily be a track for everyone but for those who can find liking to it, it will not cease to be the one song stuck in your head at all times of the day.
Track Four: Wine Nite
Released as a single the night before Nite Shift’s drop, this song goes incredibly hard. The track is one of the shortest on the entire project. It boasts, again, the confidence that Tre has and deserves to uphold in his career and abilities.
Specifically, it showcases the relationship between producer and artist which is something that isn’t always acknowledged. When an artist can just hop onto a track with no problem and rapport between artist and producer is established, it opens a space for trend setting and inspiration in other realms of music. This causes artists to be seen with their own unique style. Something that this artist/producer duo seems to have down pat.
If he hasn’t already inspired other rappers in the underground scene, this might be one of the tracks throughout his career that other growing Chicago artists will draw inspiration from.
As an artist it's important to inspire and set new trends. It’s clear, in its own right, that this song recognizes that.
Track Five: 50’s & 20’s
This song is one that speaks to me most throughout the entire project. Though I’ve declared “What’s Hatnin”’ to be a favorite, “50’s & 20’s” is the track that stands out the most to me.
It’s one of the slower sounds on the EP, but it shows a lot about the industry whether you are an upcoming artist or someone who has already made it.
In hip-hop it seems as though many artists barely make it past their 20’s, something that Tre Johnson is not afraid to touch and reflect on. Drugs tend to be seen as the downfall of many young rappers but perhaps it can be linked to the chill and confidence that they seemingly provide to the rap community.
“I could be missing a lung you still won’t hear the coughs
Smoking big dope til I O.D.
Crazy how some drugs ain’t never give me cold feet”
This is the line that makes the song, in my opinion. This is the song that provides reflection. This is the song that forces listeners to evaluate and think about hip-hop culture in its current state.
Track Six: Bang the line
Wrapping up the entirety of Nite Shift, the project goes out with a bang (all pun intended). I love this track because of the power it holds as the exit. It leaves you with a thirst for more of Tre’s flow and livelihood.
It adds the element of party that every project carries but in a different way. From the creative and electronically charged beat, to the vibe and bounce of the lyrics paired with it… it is an absolute jam.
Overall, the Nite Shift EP is a project to put Tre Johnson on the map. As an emerging Chicago rapper, it is bound to set several trends within the underground community and change the sound and boundaries of the scene as it exists today.
This project is full of hits. Turn it up! I know I will be.
Currently the project is only available for streaming on SoundCloud however, there is talk of eventually uploading the project to other streaming platforms.
Find more from Tre Johnson, here.
Find more from Mudd, here.