Album: Straight, No Chaser
Label: Brick Records/Showoff Records
Eleven years after REKS debut LP, he and frequent collaborator Statik Selektah team up again for a full-length album entitled Straight, No Chaser. On that same debut album, Along Came The Chosen, REKS teamed up with the then-unknown 18 year-old producer, Statik Selektah. While Statik has become a high-profile producer in the past 10 ten years, REKS has remained an underdog, stuck at the peak of underground stardom, but relatively unheard of outside this genre. Despite the gap in notoriety, the two have continued work together on many projects and still represent the whole east coast on Straight No Chaser.
Coming just one year after the critically acclaimed R.E.K.S. (Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme), the Boston spitter carries on with the strong 90s hip-hop vibe embodied on the previous album. REKS is joined by some of the most talented underground hip-hop artists of today including Action Bronson, Slaine, Ea$y Money, Wais P The Pimp, Termanology, and others throughout the album. Lyrically, REKS, pays homage to those who clearly have influenced his music with references and sampled lyrics from some of hip-hop’s most classic tracks scattered frequently throughout the album. From numerous Kanye samples to borrowing a lyric from Jay-Z’s “Song Cry” (“I was just f**kin these h*es I was gonna get right back”) and Notorious B.I.G.’s phrase, “ashy to classy” this project is clearly 14 tracks of pure hip-hop. Song topics and subject matter vary with some tracks, and while some are much deeper than others, they are all well written and enjoyable.
“Autographs” is an autobiographical introduction explaining a little about REKS and where he is in his career as well as thanking his longtime supporters. REKS displays his lyrical competitiveness as he goes line for line with Action Bronson on “Riggs & Murtaugh” and does the same with Slain on the title track, “Straight, No Chaser.”
“Sit/Think/Drink” is a reflective track that addresses the issues of teen pregnancy, violence, civil rights, and choices involved in being a successful person. Statik scratches Common’s lyrics, “I sit and think with a drink about how I’m gonna win” into the hook which compliments REKS conscious thoughts. On “Cancel That” Statik showcases his scratching ability by using 50 Cent’s “Hustler’s Ambition” lyrics, “so like Nino in New Jack, I’ll holla ‘Cancel That B*tch’” throughout the track.
Despite Kanye West having no actual contribution to the album, he has a persistent presence throughout the album. “Power Lines” samples Snap!’s “The Power” as well as Kanye’s “Power” emphasizing REKS and Ea$y Money’s commentary on the balance of power as well as today’s economic climate and the relationship between the two. “Such A Showoff” is a nod to Statik’s label Showoff Records. It samples Kanye’s popular line “I’m such a showoff” from Watch The Thrones’s “Lift Off.” On this track, REKS, Kali, JFK and Termanology energetically emulate ‘Ye’s cockiness over a looping piano beat. REKS reflects on the difficulty and importance of having and being a parent on “Parenthood” which samples Kanye’s lyrics from “The Joy” (“Parenthood, cause I never met nobody plan to be a parent in the hood”). Despite exemplary beats and rhymes, it’s hard to overlook REKS’ inability to make a great song. That’s not to say that any of the album’s tracks substantially lack replay value, but it’s unlikely that you will have one of these songs stuck in your head based on the songwriting found on Straight, No Chaser.
Overall, REKS does not disappoint and neither does Statik as the rhymer’s conscious lyrics mesh perfectly with Statik’s soulful beats. On last year’s Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme, REKS had production from just about every notable boom-bap producer in the game. This album says a lot for REKS and Statik as a duo, as this is a great example of true-school hip-hop in its purest form, proving that big names aren’t necessary to have a big sound. With back-to-back purist hip-hop albums like these, REKS’ dedication and passion for his craft is evident and clearly exemplified. To put it simply, REKS and Statik give hip-hop heads what they want, as they serve up their blend with no additives.