Published Sep 09, 2016In his bid to become the crown prince of hip-hop's underground, Reks is stating his case with a daunting 35-track double album, The Greatest X.
On his self-proclaimed "opus of the dopest overlooked by a society," the Massachusetts native stages a veritable clinic in the art of MCing, flaunting a litany of flows and schemes throughout the two-hour project. True to his self-anointed title of greatest unknown, Reks surrounds himself with a bevy of wordsmiths worthy of the label themselves and zealously outspits them all, from RA the Rugged Man ("Bitch Slap") to Planet Asia ("Final Four 2").
But as much is he showers himself with the props that have otherwise largely eluded him ("The Greatest," "The Recipe," "Unknown"), the MC fervently expresses his undying love for the artform, most notably on "Jumpshots," "LL Cool J" and over Apollo Brown's soulful boom-bap on "H.I.P.H.O.P." As often as he dips into the braggadocio well, his versatility, combined with a varied production palette, staves off monotony.
TGX also finds Reks confronting the African-American condition, beginning with the vindictive, anti-police brutality manifesto "Hands Up (Wink Wink)." Jaysaun and TriState join him to paint grim portraits of Reaganomics-plagued projects on "1980," while the Large Professor-styled "Gone Baby Gone" laments the countless youths falling prey to their native inner-cities, with Reks cleverly grieving: "Rose of concrete trampled under your feet for the umpteenth time in just one week." And for every reminder of the plight of the oppressed ("Pray for Me: The Genocide Note"), Reks maintains balance with uplifting, triumphant cuts like Brown's "Future Kings" and "My Dark Skin (Revisited)."
The lengthy double album — a Sisyphean task to digest in one sitting — is not without its lulls, as romantic ditties "Good Women, Thot Bitches" and "The Promise" briefly derail the otherwise focused proceedings, and the final stretch takes a noticeably mellowed, introspective tone as Reks dabbles in self-examination, however deftly, instead of reasserting his place as the genre's unsung king. Yet, with a mostly cohesive, bar-heavy magnum opus, few can better state their case as hip-hop's rightful bastion. (Brick)