Disc Review: Reks - "Straight, No Chaser" (Album Release Party at Church Boston Tonight (Weds)!!!)

By a rough estimate, Reks is about 1000 tracks into his comeback mission, which is going on about three years now. That includes the countless songs he's slayed for other artists; from Boston acts like Blak Madeen and Moe Pope, to El Da Sensei and MC-baller Ron Artest, the Lawrence native and East Coast revivalist has bodied every instrumental in his path, seemingly improving with every bar and verse, if that's even possible.

With longtime collaborator Statik Selektah handling the full beat buffet, Reks gets right to business, bringing fans up to speed on the light but autobiographic “Autographs,” then leaning hard into the more reflective “Sit/Think/Drink.” Scratching an appropriate Common rhyme into the hook, Statik winks at listeners, suggesting that few cats who remain in the game still rock like this. From there, the pair breaks away from familiar horn and piano loops, and really kicks it up a notch.

Though more than capable of holding down a project with no cameos, Reks brings crew members along when appropriate. The eternally underrated Ea$y Money pitches on the marching soul number “Power Lines,” while Kali, JFK, and Termanology immortalize a minimalist posse cut on “Such a Showoff.” Reks embraces the fierce competition, also dutifully smashing back-and-forth with the comparably lyrical likes of Slaine on the title track, and Action Bronson on “Riggs & Murtaugh.”

On a smorgasbord without a single stinker, the standout treasures here come near the end, with the hard-thought “Lost In Translation” and “Regrets,” both of which I nominate for cut of the year and then some. Serious and playful, hopeful and reckless, the latter especially exhibits precisely what makes Reks stand out from virtually every other rapper out there. He's smarter than so-called conscious acts, quicker than most tongue-twisters, and, when push comes to shove, harder than the hard-rocks.

I've often been taken to task for my extreme hyperbole – a tactic that I use to steer rap fans away from radio rubbish, and toward artists who have shit to say along with righteous rhythms to dance on. But on the several occasions when I've deified Reks, heads either agree with me wholesale, or go silent, which isn't what rap fans generally do. I'll take that as confirmation of what I've said for years – that when Reks is activated, there's absolutely no one better.

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