Album review: Reflectionz You Knighted

Vancouver-based rapper, Reflectionz’s latest album venerates the lyrical forward style of hip-hop that was prominent in the early 2000s and late ‘90s. This is done both implicitly and expressively throughout the record.

The opening track, Daily Bread is an emblematic representation of the style that Reflectionz discusses and unfortunately falls short of recreating on the album. It’s a song that closely resembles other gritty east coast hip-hop contemporaries such as rapper and producer Apathy. So much so that it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Connecticut-based artist had an uncredited appearance.

When it comes to the direct acknowledgement of the style Reflectionz aims to embody there is no better representation than the skit, It Had a Meaning. The song is telephone recording played over a boom-bap beat that engages in a hip-hop trope almost as old as the genre itself, pontificating about what is real hip-hop while bashing mainstream acts. A secondary reference to that tried-and-true mainstay is the song Shot Em Out where Reflectionz rattles off his hip-hop Rolodex ranging from Eminem to MF DOOM.

Reflectionz You Knighted is a record that is comfortable with indulging in a style of hip-hop that has long since been abandoned by mainstream audiences in lieu of the new generation of mumble rappers. Because of this, the record finds itself in the centre-right of the bell curve of quality. There are no particular lows of the record, but also no noticeable highs. Reflectionz isn’t trying to move the goal posts in the hip-hop game and instead nestles into a safe territory of quality, even if dated hip-hop.

The instrumentals on the record are consistent and from the mind of Vancouver-based producer Steps Necessary, who has previously worked with prominent Van City rapper Snak the Ripper. Unfortunately, at times this leads to the music sounding a little too reminiscent of the music released on the Stealth Bomb record label, in particular, Snak’s fellow Stompdown Killa, Merkules.

Yet the SDK boys are overrepresented in the Vancouver hip-hop scene, so it’s a treat to hear Reflectionz bring on a new roster of Lower Mainland talent. Included on the list is Van City veteran Emotionz with some local newcomers like singer 12:34 and SpicTacular.

All in all, it’s an enjoyable record that doesn’t push the boundaries but shows off some under appreciated talent.

6.5/10 – 90s Buick with a good sound system