Reason has all of the prerequisites of a man trying to gain entry into the welcome arms of Hip-Hop music--he is a graffiti artist, turned DJ, turned emcee. This story has been done a million and a half times before, especially for white rappers trying to gain a certain sort of respect in the industry (an unfortunate truth), so how does this emcee from Providence, Rhode Island, separate him from the rest of the crop?
The Hip Hop image that Reason aims for is created right off the bat on the "Intro" track that kicks it old school with a ton of scratches over a drum-influenced boom-bap beat. There are vocal samples of a phrase, "In one ear and right out the other..." that gets tricked out as if the words are spinning on vinyl at a live show right in front of your eyes. It's a refreshing take to pay homage to the music and its roots as opposed to forcing an effort to be on that next shit.
"Gemini Slang", the first real track on the album is, once again, drum driven and there are some really nice hypnotic female background vocals that do plenty to carry the track with their depth. However, the depth of Reason's own poetic design is quickly put into question as the rhyme schemes and structure of his lines starts to shed light on why exactly this album does not really create an awe-inspiring experience that it strives for. The lyrics are on the self indulgent tip similarly to many of these underground heads today, for example, this is a snippet of what to expect from "Gemini Slang":
"Ay yo, Poorly Drawn People represent the funk eclectic
I wrote this in the dark, because they shut off my electric
Nobody pays attention when you flip that dialectic
While I spit this shit so rugged, S&M bitches respect it
Rap and bullshit, I pledge allegiance not to follow it
Yappin' about your banger, turn around and swallow it
Click* your chamber's empty, you've been thinkin' from the start of it
Wage war on terror, when they never read the art of it
Fuck the hobby that you got, this music is my life
If I catch you on the block, I'll demonstrate a sacrifice
You couldn't catch some pussy in a prison full of dykes
When I stay inside a box like a pair of vintage Nikes
Bring it back to '88, like my name was Michael Irvin
Would you like a side of sauce with this beatin' that I'm servin'?
Time to close the curtain and put suckaz to rest
While I show heads in my community the true meaning of FRESH!"
As you can tell from the lyrics provided, there is nothing to really separate him from these other cats surging on the underground scene--vocally, he sounds extremely similar to Cage and many other white rappers that you may have heard and sometimes the result of his bars feels robotic and forced to fit in a strict structure that keeps all of the lines relatively the same length in words and rhyme. His subject matter is too self- indulgent and self affirming. It works well for a song like "Gemini Slang" though because his style caters to a battle rap musical accompaniment.
"He Said She Said" that follows the title track is less successful as the kind of bouncy funk beat is too upbeat for Reason's flow. Though, one can commend Reason for successfully getting enough variance on the production side of things to save it from becoming mundane, which is a very real threat given his lyrical style. In fact, on the next track, in a rare instance of breaking out of his comfort zone, Reason flips it reggae style with a mediocre result. Then, "Chain Reactions" is one of the better bluesy guitar samples that has donned the rap scene in a minute and "Let the People Know" gets the hips shaking with a mariachi inspired backdrop--although this musical choice is seemingly random as the song does not pertain to anything Spanish or South American. DJ Joeywonk does a good job of adding the cuts and chops. The only production aspect of the album that grows tiresome is that almost every track is boom-bap inspired with heavy drum patterns that Dox, who produces the whole album, must be enthralled by.
The LP's single is to be, "Dust On My Phone (A Memory)", which is a good choice, because it is a conceptual song on some level and is probably the most balanced effort on the album, with solid lyrics and a tight handclap beat.
The album does not feature any big names but has a few guests here and there that do not necessarily add or detract from "Gemini Slang" as a whole. Assumedly, the fellow rappers; Symmetry, Need Not Worry, Storm Davis and Dox have some kind of partnership relationship with Poorly Drawn People Records.
It is said to be Reason's goal with the release of "Gemini Slang" to update the past and move it into the future. Most any listener will have that nostalgic feel when popping the disc in, but it does not seem like the idea of moving it forward is genuinely drawn out, or as the release label may suggest, Poorly Drawn. "Gemini Slang" is not KRS-One incarnate, despite the desire and respect for true Hip-Hop that it embodies.
How does one random white graffiti artist, turned DJ, turned emcee change the game when there have been many others like him that that have gone the same route? Unfortunately, for Reason, such an emcee cannot move things forward and bring the dawn of a new era influenced by the nostalgic wonders of the past. This Providence, Rhode Island, based emcee is not the progressive artist that he wants to be, as a true lover of the art form of Hip-Hop, but he does a decent job of dropping a solid LP with "Gemini Slang", albeit, completely earthbound.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10
Originally posted: March 13, 2007