Published Jun 02, 2015There are two songs on Relic's latest album, The 13th Floor, that best encapsulate the two complementary sides of the multifaceted rapper and divide the spotlight on the record. The first, "The Least Of These," chronicles the troubled life of an impoverished child from Rel's past who struggled with a drug-addicted father and bullying that the rapper himself helped dish out; it's a track that coolly reveals the reflections and thoughtful, storyteller leanings that are hallmarks of the MCs relatable style.
That softer, philosophical approach is infused with rap veteran toughness on the comparatively gruff "No Smile," but Relic's sharp jabs are more the correctional shots of a knowledgeable old soul than the wild swings of an overanxious young buck. That deep-rooted soul is fleshed out in producer Fresh Kils' melodic arrangements, a series of slow to midtempo moods each capped off by Rel's own emotive vocal hooks. The two present a classic combination, but with a sound that never feels dated and a "conscious" bent that draws from the personal to avoid feeling preachy. The album benefits greatly as a result. (Independent)