Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4eva mixtape review

As a lover of music, particular Hip Hop, I find that a lot of Southern rappers get typecast, pushed into the category of party music often associated with gold chains, “good” teeth and irrelevant lyrics. Not just the music, but the people of the South in general are often seen as one dimensional caricatures of the multi-faceted, culturally dynamic people they really are. Median, Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. and his latest, Return of 4Eva refute all you may have thought the South and its people and music are about.

Big K.R.I.T’s latest Return of 4Eva is the epitome of what it means when an rapper is truly creative and talented. K.R.I.T. raps, harmonizes, and stylizes in a way that utilizes language that is neither common nor simplistic, but rather relatable to not only those in his hometown, but anyone who loves music and have a few country roots.

The album (well, mixtape) features tracks reminiscent of acts like Outkast and Young Bloodz. Big K.R.I.T runs the gamut of style with the ability to speed up the tempo and spit lyrics in rapid fire fashion or cool down the melody and add peace to the pace with a laid back cadence. K.R.I.T leaves no subject untouched as he tackles racism, violence, and project life in a way that stands very outside the box. This album presents itself with thought as it knocks hard.

Along with his own talent, K.R.I.T has also sprinkled this album with a few heavy hitters that add even more to the album. Appearances by Joi, Big Sant, Chamillionaire, Raheem Devaughn, Ludacris, and Bun B push this album a little further; making it even richer in sound and also with each artist appearance; K.R.I.T. seems to be pushed to perform harder on the tracks.

As a girl with many Southern roots and a true lover of Hip Hop and all that it encompasses, I am more than proud to bump Big K.R.I.T in my car, house, and the earphones of my work computer. This freshman is proving that the South and its people are as complex, introspective, and valid. An idea that had been lost, in the hype of a few artists that were chosen to represent the masses. Big K.R.I.T. gives a new face, sound and feel to Southern Hip Hop.

Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4eva mixtape is available for free download now


Reks – Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme album review

Reks has knocked it out the park with his latest album, R.E.K.S. (Rhythmic Eternal King Supreme); an ode to himself. This is an album that acts as an extended hyperbole of his own skils. Reks steps up his game with an album that is brimming with lyricism, creative and innovative wordplay compilations, skilled production and of course the originality and thoughtfulness that listeners expect to hear from Reks.

Fans have come to know that a Reks album delivers everything that epitomizes good Hip Hop. He takes you there with a smooth flow, and just the right touch retro homage.

REKS has elevated his style since we first heard Along Came the Chosen; R.E.K.S. (Rhythmic Eternal King Supreme) is a definitive step in the evolution of an artist that has maintained a following that regards him as relevant, in touch and a deliverer of poignancy. Next to no radio play and minimal commercial recognition; those who truly appreciate the art of pure and un-commercialized Hip Hop recognize the relevance of REKS. He’s an artist of the people; nothing being more of a testament to this than voting his 2008 single “Say Goodnight” as #3 on their list of greatest rap songs. But mainstream need not add any validation because REKS remains lethal in his rapid-fire delivery and blunt language use. The first song, “25th Hour” sets the tone for the delivery of this album, lulling with it’s smooth rhythms, but punches hard with its manner of simile abandonment. This rapper has something to say and has no time to romance you, he simply wants you to listen and maybe even truly pay attention. It is this attitude that does just that.

There is so much richness in this album that is in itself a commentary and critique on Hip Hop; whether it be the fame hungry mainstream or the ever-striving, underground MC who at times spends more time complaining about the mainstream than making good music. Reks holds no punches as he criticizes Young Money and his perception of their over-zealous chase to be all that is commercial and being little of what is actually good music.

“Limelight” is a song that mentions everyone from Kanye to Drake, Facebookers to Tweeters; all those people and things that become more important than the real thing: the music. But those coveted underground cats are not left out as Reks rattles off the names of underground artists like Little Brother, Jay Electronica and the commentator and author Toure. In his eyes no one is sacred because everyone has forgotten that it is the music and those people that live the lives that provide the inspiration for the music are what are truly important.

R.E.K.S (Rhythmic Eternal King Supreme) is a blend of truth, thought, criticiscm, and a lot of ego rolled into an album that is made for those that appreciate an actual artist that speaks his or her truth in a world where truth and authenticity is often de-valued.

Reks - Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme album review


Pharoahe Monch – W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) album review

Every time we think underground music has faded to the black, another one of it’s heavy hitters comes to the forefront to bring real Hip Hop heads a dose of the medicine they so crave. Pharoahe Monch, on his third solo album, is bringing some serious heat and acting as the perfect salve for anyone that has been missing the consciousness that the Hip Hop used to bring. Pharoahe Monch’s W.A.R. (We are Renegades) is an album for those that want more than a beat, but music for thought, music for change. W.A.R. gives its listeners an education, by throwing listeners not only music and lyricism, but content.

W.A.R. is an album that moves and takes the listener with it as it mediates through the inner workings of a true lyricist. Monch is an artist, because this is an album that has been created with the consciousness to inform with a mosaic of social poetry. Lines like, “A generation overly obsessed with killers and mobsters / Our revolutionaries want Grammies and Oscars / Imposters, fake auras and weak chakras, making a mockery of the music to be Pop stars / and they say I’m insane cause I see the aftermath of the whips and chains…” Pharoahe is forcing the listener to think a concept that has long been forgotten in “mainstream music”; W.A.R. is a reminder that music was once a medium for social commentary and change. Music has a history of provoking us to, think if not move us to action. From beginning to end Pharoahe takes on the big elephants in the room that have been forgotten, lied about or taken for granted as no longer being a relevant problem. Monch reminds us that crack is still in the hood, we are fighting useless and unnecessary wars, and the election of a black man to President has not eradicated racism.

The wise man knows that no revolution is fought alone and this album is laden with appearances by artist long known for not just being in the game, but for giving music significance and meaning. The earlier quoted, “Black Hand Side” featuring Styles P and Phonte offers a lighter beat, but the words are heavy and carry much substance, with the soft melodies we are accustomed to hearing from Phonte, the smooth voice of Styles P and the clever word play of Pharoahe. Jill Scott, Jean Grae, Royce Da 5’9, Denaun Porter, Vernon Reid, and Mela Machinko also grace us with their presence and lend so much to style of lyrical assasintry that Pharoahe already brings to the album.

There are not many that are able to pen and name what affects the current human condition, especially that of people of color with such lyrical finesse and cadence. The beat draws you in, but it is the story that keeps you engrossed, keeps you involved, and hopefully keeps you thinking and maybe even acting with conscious and social awareness. W.A.R. is an album that unfortunately due to the over-emphasis on flashy and not enough attention to substance; will not be heard by enough of the masses. But those who do hear it will be treated to an album which is crammed with creativity, thought, talent, and most importantly, a message.