Taking Reks’ past few years of productivity into account—dating back to 2008’s applauded Grey Hairs and last year’s R.E.K.S, a record that earned him a “Best Album of the Year” award in his hometown of Boston—it is clear the revered underground emcee is not one to idle by in tranquility for too long. Even with accolades for his Statik Selektah produced Straight, No Chaser release from earlier this year still rolling in, he returns once again with another full-length project. Linking up with Florida’s up ‘n’ coming producer Numonics, Reks drops Rebelutionary, an album in which he devotes all of the lyrical content to tackling social and political issues head-on.
Reks continues to grow with each venture and that progression is again apparent on this record. Not only in terms of subject matter— verbalizing a vivid and bleak depiction of the current sociopolitical landscape; addressing among other things, institutionalized racism, wartime politics and government hypocrisy—but also in terms of breath control and album continuity. Rebelutionary shows Numonics and Reks synced up in seamless accord—a continuous stream of soulful beats compliments the emcee's impeccable flow. Speaking in terms of aural pleasure, it sounds damn good.
The J NICS feature “Bang Bang” is one of the albums high points. Over a blues loop with a hard-banging drum beat, the two emcees exchange verses about the illegal firearm trade and gang culture and the effect it has on the community, wherein the hook goes, “Murder, more murder, more homicide in the ghettos.” Another standout comes near the end of the record. “Obedient Workers”—which features a makeshift hook comprised entirely of a George Carlin sample—addresses the blue-collar and service industry employment systems that were designed with a premeditated lack of upward mobility in place.
The prime grievance with Rebelutionary—and it’s one that may seem nitpicky, as it is seldom an issue with hip-hop’s current trend of #hashtag rap, “bad bitches” and runnin’ the trap game ad nauseam—is that Reks’ intellectually intense and disheartening content wears on, becoming borderline disparaging. For a genre whose broad spectrum appeal is primarily escapism, it’s perhaps too heavy a dose of austere reality to withstand for an entire album.
6.5 / 10
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