Originally planned to be released last year on the anniversary of Biggie’s death, Reks’ sort-of-self titled LP, R.E.K.S., (the title is an acronym for Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme) has arrived from Showoff/Brick.
Unlike many hip-hop albums today, there is very little attention put on the guest MCs. Instead the vocal spotlight is placed exclusively on the Boston-bred lyricist. Guests make an appearance on a roster of big-name producers including DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Alchemist and Reks’ go-to man, Statik Selektah, all supplying beats for the album. The outcome is an eclectic mix of mostly old-school-sounding beats providing a wide range of sonic textures for Reks to easily control with his advanced-quality flow.
The lyrical focus on R.E.K.S. stays close to hip-hop’s arrogant, self-promoting comfort zone. On “The Underdog,” Reks claims to be the “greatest rapper no one heard about.” When he’s not puffing out his chest, Reks makes sure to bring his competitors down a peg or two, calling out rappers for everything from having a weak flow to Tweeting to wearing skinny jeans, all in harsh, politically incorrect vernacular.
Reks is aware that the all-bravado, all-the-time mentality does wear thin. There are a number of down-beat tracks where the MC takes a step down from his pedestal and reflects upon himself. For example, during “The Wonder Years,” a sad, wobbling beat sits underneath Reks while he admits that “all the time I spent wasted / Listening to my instrumental / I ain’t have no pay for the rent, not one red cent / Wondering what I’m in this game for.” The self-assessment is a welcome departure from the harsh judgments that he makes on others. Lyrically, it could be the most interesting song on the album; however, the production doesn’t stand up to the adrenaline-filled, driving beats from the likes of Premier and Statik.
The beats on “25th Hour” and “This And That” are the catchiest and most accessible on the album, sure to provide Reks with some attention outside of the underground hip-hop circle, while the rapper’s mic skills throughout will keep the hardcore fans pleased. Reks’ lyrical skill, complex flow and the help received from his legion of legendary producers are sure to bring some well-deserved attention to his third studio album.