Indie rap artist Realz Reality is a student of the game and started as one-half of the rap duo Distant Pham with rapper/producer Master Wiz. With more than a handful of releases behind him, he ventures on with his latest solo body of work titled Renaissance of the Risen. The 21-track project sees him teaming up with Tek from the legendary Brooklyn duo Smif N Wessun, Master Wiz, Guitarist Endustrie and DJ 4 Pound amongst other artists.


The project starts with the introductory track titled “The Risen”, over a triumphant horn-driven backdrop, Realz introduces listeners to his style with a nonstop action-packed performance. From couplets, inner rhyme schemes and an impassioned flow, Realz sets the bar high with this one with lines like “I rise from ashes, I’m Lazarus, life’s lavish/Glamorous disastrous/You can’t imagine it/look hard examine it/protect it like laminate/Fans clamouring and jamming in to bring the camera in”. The next track “Misery Torment” is a sombre and melancholic track that dives deep into the dark crevices of Realz’s mind as he embodies the spirit of the shadowy figure who flows through the city and the many characters who traverses the concrete jungle from an observer’s view. This is followed by “X2”, which comprises cinematic samples that sound like a scene from a horror-dramatic flick. Once again, Realz proceeds with bars like “Randomly I choose them, break em down, remove them/Body shot, chop shop/Body bag is gruesome/get molly whop’s amusing/the illusion of me losing/I’m certified my nigga, I’m proven, no disputing” as he flexes on the opposition. “3 Wishes” is a collaboration with dancehall artist Colle’ Kharis and it’s an unapologetic socially conscious tune that explores stereotypes and trends/bandwagon that people jump on just to get ahead. Over the sparse groove and lush keys, Realz reminds us that it’s not all glitters on these mean streets and that reality truly bites.


“Keyed In” features Tek from Smif N Wessun and it’s a pure display of rap skills from both emcees. Backed by a jazzy and soulful soundscape, the pair deliver a solid ode to the culture that paved the way for black folks. This is followed by the insightful “Live” where Realz recruits the talents of vocalist Esraelia, who helps pepper the track with her rich vocal runs. The track is an uplifting look at the concept of being content and finding ways to be happy regardless of the situation. He acknowledges that life will always come with challenges but the trick is to keep grinding and it all starts in the mind. Realz music partner Master Wiz, appears on “Good 4 Her”, a hard-hitting off-kilter track reminiscent of early Wu-tang Clan. Here, both rappers reflect on past flames that turned out to become toxic. Singer Esraelia appears again on “Cloud 9”, a love track that sees Realz paying homage to that special someone with heartfelt bars like “I bathe in your essence/When I’m awake, I long for your presence/effervescent/ constant possessive/I thank the lord that the men before, they ignored your allure” and he continues to expound on her positive attributes while Esraelia peppers the track with her sultry melodies. “This Is Me” is a self-reflective piece that talks about the things that make Realz tick as he gives us an engaging and candid view into his life while “Hip Hop Anthem” is an anthemic tribute to the culture. The production on both tracks is punchy and cinematic and Realz’ no-holds-barred lyricism shines through as he bares his all on wax. This is followed by “The Essence” which continues the fun with another barrage of dope bars ladened with vivid imagery and stylish rhyme schemes complimented by excellent scratches from DJ 4 Pound. On “Get Off”, Realz teams up with DJ 4 Pound, who returns but this time as a proficient emcee on the second verse.


The project closes out with “As the Clock Ticks” and “The Symphony”, two tracks that give audiences a different perspective on Realz’ artistry. “As the Clock Ticks” is a verbal journey through time via the lens of a hiphop rapper as he traverses through time, listening to his various rap groups from the 80s and 90s and watching Bruce Lee launch a sidekick towardsChuck Norris’ hairy chest. The storytelling is impeccable and engaging. The final track “The Symphony” is a solemn and melancholic song that dives deep into Realz life as a rising rapper, father and black man making his way in this unforgiving world. Here, he speaks truth to the universe and acknowledges his flaws, accepts his fate and proceeds to make the right decisions at every chance he gets to right his wrongs.


Other tracks like “The Coming” (featuring Endustrie on the guitars) “Glory”, and “On My Own” are solid as well and also offer different sides to what makes Realz music uniquely different. Overall, the project is cohesive and chock full of hard-hitting beats, and well-crafted songwriting that covers engaging topics that everyone can lean on.


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