If an album begins with a speech by Fred Hampton, it better have a message. If that album is titled REBELutionary, the stakes are raised. Massachusetts emcee REKS and Florida producer Numonics chose to kickoff their collaborative project, REBELutionary, in this manner with their intro, as Hampton’s words set the stage for REKS’ lyrics and Numonics’ instrumentation. The album sets itself up to either bring forth a strong message or disappoint. The duo elected to do the former.
As REKS writes with rage about his reality, perhaps “Unlearn” is the perfect track then to start the album off. “Fuck what you heard. Forget what you knew,” the chorus chimes. “Time to unlearn. System reboot.” The rage enters like Zack de la Rocha when he laments that his school didn’t have a Langston Hughes mural or “conversations on the Willie Lynch theory in history class.” Knowing that many others also lacked the teachings or influences, REKS puts it on himself to speak on injustice, inequality and racism without sacrificing flow or delivery for message. Instead, songs like “Bang Bang” and the Jon Connor assisted “Shotgun” provide infectious cuts with intriguing meaning to back the album’s theme. Later, Termanology joins the Rebelution on the inspired “Ignorance is Bliss.” Using Numonics’ soulful blends, REKS also speaks on women inventively on “Avarice” and the 9-5 grind on the George Carlin supported “Obedient Workers.”
Numonics and REKS compliment one another. Numonics’ ability to blend styles makes for a versatile project. “Bang Bang’s” soulful nature is a welcome addition to the project while the Spanish chorus and Latin flavor on “La Luna” add another element of diverse efficiency. The horns on “Obedient Workers” show more range while tracks like “The Edge” show his ability to create throwback ‘90s era beats with a modern flair, something REKS is also able to pull off with his rhymes.
REBELutionary may strike many with a message of empowerment and, as Sage Francis once put it, a healthy distrust. His political and social commentary may be just what is needed in this election year for fans but others may be slightly put off by its relentlessness. Still, it is worth noting that the album also shines by highlighting ways in which people can improve upon themselves, a sign of self-awareness and growth that speaks beyond political diatribes. It may not be for everyone, but with REBELution, Numonics and REKS prove that they have a message to deliver worth hearing.