Cityreal The Beginning

Cityreal The Beginning
A recent inductee into the Battle Axe Warriors, Vancouver, BC rapper/producer Cityreal's The Beginning isn't really the beginning. Cityreal started off rapping in Winnipeg, MB as part of Macromatic and later collaborated with Bonafide member A-Hustle, with whom he released a mixtape. It might be better described as a new beginning as a solo artist. Combining his past and his political studies while in Winnipeg, Cityreal flips tales of hard times into positive, uplifting songs that attempt to instigate change while also schooling aspiring rappers on the adversities within the industry. And then there are the references to smoking weed. Fully self-produced, the music on The Beginning is a fine match to the subject matter. Incorporating elements of jazz, blues, gospel and soul, it's primarily a pretty mellow listen, even as the percussion remains up-tempo. Blaxploitation beats composed of huge horn sections and chicken-scratch guitar back "Soul On the Track" and "Lost in the Game," both revealing life lessons through autobiographical lyrics, while "Passing Me By," a song about aging and the regrets of getting high, tends towards a bluesier sound, thanks in no small part to one of two appearances from veteran bluesman Wes Mackay. Appearances are also made by Van-City mainstays Jeff Spec, Moka Only, Kyprios and NaRai. The Beginning may get a little repetitive by the end, but the first half is strong enough to make this album a worthwhile listen deserving of the nomination it received for Best Rap Recording at the Western Canadian Music Awards. (Soul of the City)