Music

REASON – ‘New Beginnings’: Album Review

The crew REASON has assembled for New Beginnings features some of the industry’s finest, performing at a standard that could only be described as the industry’s best.

This album is West Coast hip-hop at its finest. New Beginnings is the second full-length from Los Angles MC REASON, and his first backed by the legendary label Top Dawg Entertainment (Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Jay Rock).

You may have came across REASON’s work in Kendrick’s executively produced Black Panther: The Album Soundtrack or in J.Cole’s Revenge of the Dreamers III. Running through the album, you can’t help but feel like it’s REASON’s bid to belong amongst these peers. New Beginnings’ feature list alone is a storm of his contemporaries, featuring guest verses from Vince Staples, Ab-Soul, JID, Isaiah Rashad, Rapsody, and ScHoolboy Q. But more on that shortly.

REASON press shot

On the surface if you like good kid, m.A.A.d city or The Sun’s Tirade, you’ll dig this album – it’s composed of tracks that make you feel untouchable, classic, and cool. Fantastic sample selections feature alongside effortless hooks, all paired with heavy hitting percussion. Simple, yet steezy.

SAUCE with Vince Staples is the perfect example of this vibe, but a Staples features is often a seal of approval for an album. Like an Oprah’s Reading Club sticker, it’s a guarantee for a good time; Flume’s Skin, Billie Eilish’s don’t smile at me, and now REASON’s New Beginnings.

This feature holds truth to that theory, signalling SAUCE as a windows-down-banger. Clean keys underneath dirty drums and an expert lyrical delivery presents a perfect package for any midnight drive.

Off that note, the album is as its best when REASON trades bars with his buddies. The beats are world class, and considering it’s a TDE album, that should be expected. So it’s welcoming they’re shared with a generation of rappers with blooming reputations for being the best.

I Can Make It is all pocket and no apologies; bounce from the synth, a badass bass line, and cheeky tom fills. Rapsody then slides into the scene and provides a Missy Elliot levels of attitude.

Extinct with Isaiah Rashad and JID is a straight up cypher. The track feels like it brings hip-hop to its roots with each artist interweaving their verses, trading bars for bars. This served on a sample of MF DOOM and Metal Finger’s Pennyroyal is canvas made for spitting. A nice touch on this track is the last minute ad-lib from Mereba, which provides a smooth transition into her slow jam feature Westside.

It’s touches like these that make the album feel like a listening experience, or perhaps a grand tour spotlighting artists who we should all be familiar with. As a rapper who’s been thrust into the limelight through star-studded compilation albums, it’s fitting to see REASON call upon artists in the same position.

The lead single from the album – Pop Shit featuring ScHoolboy Q – fittingly set this precedent. ScHoolboy Q defined his place in TDE and within the industry with his early releases Setbacks and Habits & Contradictions, those recordings featuring early-career appearances from Jhené Aiko and A$AP Rocky.

I can’t help but feel a similar vibe here. We’re witnessing a waft of proto-greatness from all the artists involved on New Beginnings.

 

New Beginnings is out now via Top Dawg Entertainment/Caroline Australia. Stream the album here.