Although Boston-area native Reks now resides in sunny Florida, Straight, No Chaser proves his immediate plans do not involve retirement. The album finds Reks using the guaranteed formula of Statik Selektah producing an entire project (as the beatsmith has done on recent pairings with Action Bronson, Termanology, and more). Statik utilizes jazzy and soulful production that complements the social and motivational themes that Reks kicks to make up the bulk of the inviting album.
Once the drums, welcoming horns, and flawlessly utilized Beastie Boys sample hit on “Autographs,” it becomes apparent that the listener is in for a journey throughout the album. Talking about the lifestyle of an MC and the fame it brings, the track serves as an introduction to a strong follow-up to 2011’s critically acclaimed Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme. “Sit/Think/Drink,” with its scratched sample of Common’s famous line from “Resurrection,” follows and shows the blend of thematic and lyrical styles that are contained on the release.
Focused wordplay and lyricism are on display throughout the album, and with only a handful of choice guests, more room is left for the artist crafting the album. Some notable pairings find Action Bronson on the Lethal Weapon inspired “Riggs & Murtaugh,” Slaine spitting on the title track, and Kali, J.F.K., and Termanology lending their flows on the team display “Such A Showoff.”
Only a few minor missteps can be found on the otherwise seamless work. “Lost in Translation,” with its Muzak-styled production, and less than par chorus, tends to drag a bit. Additionally, some of the other tracks towards the end of the album display the same down tempo style of production, and when compared to the atmosphere that the opening tracks bring, they feel a little lethargic. With the verbal energy on many of the songs, some of the subdued soul-heavy production can drag, but it’s a give and take based on the balance the pair seemed to have been aiming for on the album.
Straight, No Chaser, is another standout album from a reliable MC and producer tandem. Reks and Statik Selektah prove that good music is like a finely aged liquoir; when created properly it goes down smoothly and keeps you coming back for more. —Matt Wright