The face of Canadian hip-hop worldwide is often token-granted to the likes of Buck 65 and K-os, and, to a lesser extent, Kardinal Official and Swollen Members. With his fourth full-length, give or take a handful of self-released CDr, Rock, Paper, Scissors is another link in a mighty chain of Noah23 albums. References to Weezer, Jenga, Wacky Packages, and Andrew WK along side samples from The Matrix and the free space captain themed pinball game that used to come with Windows somewhat date the Halifax emcee, but as the title suggests, these collected rhymes are a stab at the childish things one more or less leaves behind before entering adulthood. Noah has been at it for about 15 years now. It is his time now.
Proving his cultural relevance, everyone from fellow canucks Cadence Weapon and Josh Martinez to Sole and k-the-i??? add their righteous words to the equation. Yet, outside of the folksy instrumental laid down by Jim Guthrie (Islands) on highlight “Torn Again” and the wistful, ghostly “Faded” refrain (something that places the track similar to something you’d expect from Anticon), the beats mostly stick in the comfort zone of MPC boom-bap we have come to expect from indie hip-hop, for good or ill. In the rich American scene, this record won’t stand apart enough for Noah to earn lasting recognition, but it easily ranks in the Canadian elite. Rock, Paper, Scissors is undoubtedly a solid album and holds its own on a global scale, but I cannot see it making any more of an impact than any of his other albums. And yet, maybe it’s better that way. He obviously has all the friends he needs, and struggle helps keep MCs more honest. Regardless of the current state, history will remember Noah23.