Cool Nutz Embraces His Role as Portland Hip-Hop’s Elder Statesman On “Terrance”

There’s a tone of mentorship throughout, even on the autobiographical tracks.

Cool Nutz, Terrance (Jus Family)

[LEGACY RAP] Call Cool Nutz an old-head if you want. He won’t take offense. While rap itself is just now entering middle age, and only beginning to contend with what that means on record, Portland hip-hop’s Mayor for Life accepted his elder statesman status long ago, and it’s a role he fully embraces on Terrance, his 11th album. “I’m a big fish swimming in a small pond/Open up the floodgates to put the whole city on,” he raps over a typically soulful Tope beat on highlight “Old,” where the 45-year-old native of North Prescott Street takes a big-picture view of the legacy he’s leaving behind and determines “it’s more than the trophy shelf.” There’s a tone of mentorship throughout, even on autobiographical tracks like “No Laces,” which recounts the old days hustling on Portland street corners without devolving into lecturing or self-glorification. Musically, Nutz doesn’t try to keep up with the young ’uns, sticking with the slow-rolling West Coast production that best suits his measured, no-nonsense delivery—though he does try his hand at the staccato Migos flow on “Did It Twice,” with not-embarrassing results. As usual, Nutz culls from his prodigious contact list, calling in cameos from E-40 and fellow local legend Maniac Lok, but the overstuffed guest list is one of Terrance’s few flaws: On a record branded with his government name, you expect a little more intimacy and instead come away wishing you had more opportunities to commiserate one-on-one. 

SEE IT: Cool Nutz plays Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash St., with Rasheed Jamal, Mooky, Juma blaQ and DJ Fatboy, on Saturday, Sept. 30. 9:30 pm. $12 advance, $15 day of show. 21+.