Go ahead and breathe. After sitting through the endless utterance of verbal venom that is R.E.K.S. (Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme), the average listener will want to. On his newest project, the Massachusetts duelist effectively tears holes in a decidedly sub-par industry, seemingly without inhaling. Kudos to his beast-like bravery, but what’s beneath the surface?
Beyond the Guru connection and hardcore classifications, Reks consistently proves himself a delivery connoisseur. “The 25th Hour,” the Bostonian’s verbose lead single, is the ideal intro for this album, showing off an impeccable technical mastery of his craft. Bottom line? As Twista once said, the man will flow until his belly hurts.
The abundance of breathless run-on phrasings run on through every track, so get used to it. Reks has a lot to say, tackling commercialism, domestic violence, troubled childhood and competition, mostly with a consistently cavalier flow. But honestly, we’ve heard the stories he tells before. “Mr. Nobody,” for example, has an air of contrived emotion and socio-political awareness we’ve heard on many a song by a Nas/Tupac, etc. Reks can continue the talk, of course, but shouldn’t limit himself to the vastly hackneyed.
The man’s been around long enough to feel comfortable calling bullshit on the industry and R.E.K.S. is full of bold bravado.. To back the swag, Reks came with an album full of scratches and gutter beats from the likes of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek and Statik Selektah. Obviously dope beats weren’t a problem for the guy, with bangers like Sean C. and LV’s silky-smooth “Kill Em” and “The Wonder Years” with its erratic sine waves both provide the perfect palette for pure lyricism. But that might be the problem.
A dope beat is wasted if the rhymes can’t match it. Reks is more than capable of riding a beat and uttering amazing analogies over top of it. The problem with this album is that it sounds like he’s trying to ride those beats. Instead of letting the creative Creatine pump out naturally, Reks focuses more on the delivery than the message itself. On “Thin Line” the chorus sounds like it was written just so the song would have one, and the piano-driven, name-dropper “Limelight” sounds too much like baseless hatin’ to be heralded as real talk. Where’s the ingenuity?
R.E.K.S. proves the New Englander still has one of nicest flows in the game, but it also proves flow means nothing without creative subject matter. In much the same way Eminem sounded like a technical master with a shortage of ideas on Recovery, Reks moves from one track to the next, rarely relinquishing his hold in favor of an intriguing story. Just exhale, Reks.