Philadelphian rapper Reef the Lost Cauze has been releasing underground hip hop for the better part of a decade. His sixth album, Fight Music is his first release since 2008’s The Stress Files. On the album, Reef teams up with Washington, DC production team Guns-N-Butter.
Hearing about this album, it immediately reminded me of fellow Philadelphian rapper Freeway‘s recent full length collaboration album with producer Jake One. Of course, Reef’s album is a little more underground but it does not make it any better or worse. From the getgo, Gunz-N-Butter deliver raw hip hop beats. The album’s first track, the appropriately titled “Intro”, sounds like something off Wu-Tang Clan‘s 36 Chambers. Unlike Wu-Tang, Reef’s lyrics are a little more playful with a good amount of word play and topical references.
Guns-N-Butter constructs a J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League-esque beat on “OPG Theme”. The track has the type of symphonic beat that Young Jeezy loves. It prompts Reef to say during the long piano intro to the song, “yo Stew, what you doin with this long ass intro? This is fuckin rap. What are you trying to be poetic and shit?” But after the intro, the track turns into quite a hard hitter and Reef still delivers the creative word play while name checking topical references like Arturo Gatti and Steve McNair.
Reef succeeds when he is being cocky and playful, using similes and word play. Some of the tracks veer away from this route. Most notably, the album’s closing track “Sun” which is the mid-tempo ballad of the album. The track attempts to give comfort to those who have lost loved ones to violence. While the track’s message might be an admirable one, it does not play to Reef’s strengths.
A couple of weak tracks derail Fight Music, but the album still remains a fairly prominent assertion of power. Both Reef and Guns-N-Butter both perform well, its just questionable content that prevents the album from a obtaining a higher score.