Though Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek have released just one album, Train of Thought, since forming the hip-hop duo Reflection Eternal in the late ’90s, their catalogue is surprisingly thorough. As they prepare to release their long-awaited sophomore project, Revolutions Per Minute, this year, their new mixtape, The RE:Union, proves that point even further by providing an excellent collection of new tracks, unreleased gems, classic collaborations and even a few solo joints from the pair.
The payoff comes quick as Reflection Eternal kick things off with their freshest material. From the posse cut “Just Begun,” featuring Jay Electronica, J. Cole and Mos Def, to the quick-paced “Revolutions Per Minute,” The RE:Union features a blend of Kweli’s nimble lyrics and Tek’s soulful production—the same winning formula they used back in 2000. It’s best displayed on the single-worthy “Back Again,” where Kweli points out, “That’s right, we back again/You can like rap again.”
However, the majority of this reunion is spent reminiscing on the past. From their memorable jumpoff single, “Fortified Live,” to the stellar singles from their debut album, like “Move Something” and “The Blast (Remix),” the second half of the mixtape is basically a refresher course on Reflection Eternal. Even Kweli’s Kanye West-produced “Good To You” from his 2002 album, Quality, and Tek’s “Music For Life” from his 2006 album, Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip, get nods. Still, even with just a few new tracks sprinkled into The RE:Union, Reflection Eternal is finally reunited—and it feels so good. —Chris Yuscavage