Reg is a hip hop artist from Raleigh, NC, who brought up on writing poetry. His latest release is the album “R.A.W.” This record reminds me of better time in hip-hop, in that it consists of very structured, tightly wound songs that range from aggressive-spirited, and outright bombastic drive-by music, to heartfelt, conscious, and touching, to just being colorful, wordy, and creative. From the opening titular track, Reg already asserts his authority over the listener, and he continues to showcase his ability to flow over a multitude of beats throughout the album. He is a fierce lyrical machine, and never falls short of topics to rap about.
It’s easy to see that Reg doesn’t care about whatever expectations his different audiences may set for him, and that he is not interested in capitalizing on modern trends or commercial sounds. A skilled and all-around developed MC, Reg shows a harnessed versatility and diversity hardly seen among today’s mumble rappers.
The first couple of tracks start off the album with a triumphant celebration of creative freedom and ambition. Among them the bombastic “C.R.I.M.E (Commanding Respect In My Environment)”, the eclectic “Pool” and the soul-stirring energy of “Drive”.
With Reg’s string of hard-hitting alternative flavored opening tracks, the earthly, old school feel of the album comes head on. And it’s as raw as the title says. The near schizophrenic mood of “P Got The Man Deranged” delivers bouncy horns and looped R&B blurbs.
Reg shows his mastered skill at characterization and metaphor mixed with stone cold wit, like never before on “If I Was Your Nigga”, rapping in the first person. “R.A.W.” is unencumbered by the filler that plagues many hip hop albums, making its steadily paced vision of ambition and justice easy to sit through, especially on the anthemic “Land of the Non Privileged”.
Reg is rapper who puts as much thought into his words, as he does his delivery, and always delivers verses that are intelligent, unpredictable, and fully engaging. As he promptly does on “Liquid Butter”, all wrapped up a backdrop of psychedelic soul with blaring horns and distorted drums.
Right up until the final track – “The Knowledge” – each cut remains intense, full of vision, and bursting with more thought than the average mind can handle. The variety and volume of Reg’s ideas and soundscapes throughout this project is staggering: “R.A.W.” is a project to drown in.
It is an invaluable work to the patient–meaning both those who are meticulous and methodical, and those in need of something more than just a party song. With deep sonic versatility and thematic range, “R.A.W.” acts viscerally on the listener and invites a visceral exploration as a return of the favor.
The full blow to the gut only deepens with each subsequent listen, because once the frenzy of the music sets you up for what seems like a T.K.O., the killer punch arrives with the lyrics. “R.A.W.” is not for the weak-hearted, as Reg raises the stakes another notch.