Redman has earned the reputation of being a ferocious lyricist that understands the sound and accessibility of hardcore Hip Hop. For two decades he has pushed the genre forward with pivotal releases that demonstrated impressive lyricism and a knack for humor. With a rumored Muddy Waters 2 in the works, Redman comes out of the bullpen to release Redman Presents…Reggie in the last month of the year. The album, much like the year in Hip Hop, is a bit scattered. It’s not as comprehensive as previously Redman albums have been, but it still has that same Brick City passion that has made him a Rap staple.
Part of Redman’s appeal is his ability to spin these lyrical narratives that contain humor but still hit hard. The very first line demonstrates this point, “It’s the brother with a haircut / Rhymes got your mind in a bear hug.” The line exemplifies what Redman is and always has been about. No other emcee would start a track off like this and satisfy listeners so fully. Yet Redman, not only does it, but has made a career off of it. The introduction “Reggie” sees some lyrical hits and misses. Punchlines like “Even my underwear brief” aren’t as funny as Redman would have hoped. However, much like the title says, Redman Presents….Reggie the listener has to understand that Reggie is and always has been multi-faceted.
“That’s Where I B” sees Redman attacking charged production. It’s tracks like this where he is in his comfort zone. He goes hard, and turns a club-popping beat into music that just complements his skill set. The very next track “Def Jammable” maintains the project;s momentum. Even Redman’s dive into Auto-Tune seems genuine in its sarcasm. The track is classic Redman and the fact that he has voiced his displeasure with Def Jam over the past year, the track’s title makes it all the more enjoyable.
That momentum plummets with “Full Nelson,” the posse cut on the record, where a crutched Auto-Tune chorus ruins any shot of rappers getting busy. It’s the first and worst misstep on the album. “Lift it up” and “All I Do” sees Redman abandoning the classic Funk production that defined his music. “All I Do” is the most blatant example of Reggie expanding his horizons. The R&B track isn’t a failure, but it also does little to solidify a new market for Redman. “Lemme Get 2” follows suit and is another letdown. The hook sounds more B.o.B. than Redman, and the Def Squad member does little follow up the chorus with lyrics that support this case. Saukrates’s verse saves the track from a total loss.
From the mid-point on, Redman continues experimenting with new production/hooks and lyrics. Maybe it was a direct response to Def Jam shelving his art. If he is trying to prove a point, he makes it clear that he can do whatever he wants on the mic, but that it also isn’t nearly as dope as what he does best. Redman’s almost been as Hip Hop as they come and when he is in his element this is very apparent. On “Rockin’ Wit Da Best,” Redman forces the lyrics to live up to the song’s name. On top of that he gives Kool Moe Dee a little shine which is always a welcomed addition to any project. This track along with “Lite 1 Witcha Boi” is the first moment where the production changes work. Redman rides the beat to perfection and the hook is catchy, hinting at the purest example of what the pride of Newark, New Jersey may have been hinting at.
Redman Presents…Reggie isn’t near Mr. Noble’s best work, but fans would be remised to turn their nose to the project. When he is in his element, he spits harder, and flows better than any of his peers. On past projects even when he missed the mark, he fell in a category of his own. However, as he dabbles with new production, and trendy hooks, his misses now fall in line with the rest of the rappers that use this pretty typical formula. The project maybe Def Jammable, but Reggie’s “Tiger Style Crane” is more Karate Kid than it is Bruce Lee on this project.