Realz Reality: Renaissance of the Risen

Beginning as half the duo Distant Pham, Realz Reality strikes out on his own for Renaissance of the Risen. As with most hip hop albums, the LP features a slew of guests, but Realz Reality’s solo debut is best when he is truly solo.

“This is Me” is a raw introduction and brief history of the rapper. It oddly is placed as track twelve on the 21 track album. The album does start with a serviceable run of four tracks–“The Risen,” “Misery Torment,” “X2,” and “The Coming”–all which feature big production that allows Reality to sound bombastic while showcasing witty wordplay and storytelling ability.

The first real slip on the album is the reggae-infused “3 Wishes.” Guest vocalist, Colle´ Kharis provides a lackluster chorus. While he provides a verse that is a bit more interesting, by the time it is added over three-minutes into the song most people’s attention has already vanished. Similarly there are three songs featuring Floridian vocalist, Esraelia, that feel skippable. Her vocals on the chorus of “Live” are fine but Reality follows the lighter production with a positive flow that feels significantly less gritty than the songs surrounding it. Although “Cloud 9” is one of the album’s focus tracks, it’s R&B-centric production and lovey lyrics lack bite. Their final collaboration, “On My Own” sees the emcee rapping over a piano-laden beat about being a flower in a dustbin.

Not every guest spot goes quite as poorly as those though. Realz Reality teams up with the other half of Distant Pham, Master Wiz for two of the outstanding tracks on the album: “Good 4 Her” and “Just Another Day.” While the biggest guest on the album, Tek of Smif-N-Wessun fame does not disappoint on “Keyed In.”

While I do not think Realz Reality is in “J. Cole went platinum with no features” territory, he does seem to work best when he is truly solo. He clearly has the talent to carry a track by himself or at least with little help from others. Hopefully on future efforts we will get even more Realz Reality unfettered and uncut.

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