You want an inkling of how grim things are for black kids right now, try and find another current rap record that manages to mean a damn thing without slipping into gangsta suicide or Afrocentric cryptoracism. Since this one sank faster than Public Enemy, maybe it doesn't mean much either, but to me the East Flatbush trio radiates the hope hip hop was full of not so long ago. There's deep pleasure in their vocal tradeoffs and hard, wryly textured tracks. There's wordwise grace in rhymes that balance B-movie fantasy against everyday brutality without denial or despair. And there's joy in the nonpareil skills of reformed backward rapper Chip Fu. He coughs, he hiccups, he snorts, he stutters; he whinnies, wheezes, wows, and flutters.
Bret Love at AllMusic wrote in retrospect that Nervous Breakdown showcased "an improved lyrical maturity among all three members" on a record that was "a frenzied, fast-paced roller coaster ride of originality that doesn't let up until the last song ends."