Philadelphia underground MC Reef the Lost Cauze released his latest full-length The Fast Way yesterday on Bandcamp for free. Harking back to the way things were done in hip-hop’s golden era, the whole project was produced, mixed, and mastered by one DJ, Emynd. The skittering hi-hats of the opening track immediately provide audio confirmation that the music is just as current as the release method, however, with the additional visual aid of the Tumblr-friendly album art, reminiscent of Harmony Korine’s zeitgeist-skewering Spring Breakers. The dancehall samples on “Interlude #1″ and “Bredrin” are firmly of-the-moment as well, drawing on Emynd’s deep digital crates in a genre his DJ sets have been featuring heavily at least since White Tees and White Belts in the mid aughts. The post-Occupy populism of Reef’s rhymes on “For the Have-Nots” proves these are not just empty signifiers, too, unifying medium and message in an anthem that sets out to unify far more.
The classicist sample-based boom-bap and nimble lyricism that makes up the majority of the album is sure to please Reef’s rabid fanbase from his time on the battle rap circuit and Army of the Pharaohs affiliations, while the diversity of the drums and samples bring in fans of Emynd’s notoriously varied party sets as well as keeping one foot in the experimentation of Reef’s Christmas 2012 Reef the Lost Cauze Is Dead project. For a free release from an artist who has two forthcoming albums with his crew this year, this is a remarkably strong project, just as those who’ve been following Lost Cauze since his recently re-released 2001 debut would expect. With only one feature, it’s also sure to provide a fix for anyone who doesn’t think there is enough of their favorite MC on those forthcoming AOTP records. The chemistry he and Emynd have developed working together since 2003′s Invisible Empire is palpable, managing to cram battle-rap bravado, careful contemplation, and a hefty dose of humor into just 12 tracks. Here’s hoping they’re still putting out such quality material in 2025.
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC