Following a run of melodic, introspective singles, North Side rapper Nello dropped a 7-song project called Survive.
“3 AM” finds Nello reminiscing on late nights–or early mornings, depending on your perception–spent talking, mourning, smoking, living. An undercurrent of grief runs through all of Nello’s music (his album art is awash with caskets and tombstones), but, while there is clearly a measure of pain on display here (“Cried so many nights when Keith died […] Swear at times I don’t feel like myself”), the rapper uses an exuberant chipmunk-soul instrumental to strike a more celebratory tone. He proclaims, “My life is doing great/Saw my grandma, man, she proud,” and makes peace with a broken relationship with an understated couplet: “Hate to see her go/Guess it was the plan.” Near the end of the track, Nello sums up the tug-of-war between sorrow and joy with a piece of sage advice (“Appreciate the bad, because it comes with the good”) and prays for his family. We’re left with a feeling of hope, joining Nello in a toast to life even as we glance with him into the void.