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Review: A-Reece’s ‘Today’s Tragedy, Tomorrow’s Memory’ is a Mixtape From an Artist at The Peak of His Powers

A-Reece's new mixtape 'Today's Tragedy, Tomorrow's Memory' is not a loud and grand proclamation, it's a small and quiet statement from an artist well and truly at the peak of his powers.

"I'm on my second j, but I ain't getting high, 23 stressing like I'm 45, I'm mortified," raps A-Reece on the opener to Today's Tragedy, Tomorrow's Memory: The Mixtape. It's not that difficult to read the subtext of these lines. At 23, the Pretoria rapper's career has had as many operatic twists and turns as most seasoned veterans. In 2016 (then aged 19 and signed to Ambitiouz Entertainment), he released his critically acclaimed Paradise. The album won him Lyricist Of The Year at the South African Hip Hop Awards, but a little over a year later, A-Reece left Ambitiouz Entertainment and went independent which resulted in his debut album being removed from YouTube and other streaming services at the time.

This is all to say, Today's Tragedy, Tomorrow's Memory: The Mixtape is a project that comes with its fair share of baggage. A-Reece is a rapper notorious for his reclusiveness. He takes up minimal space online, often tweeting updates from the studio or guest appearances on his peers' albums. Even Today's Tragedy's rollout could be considered frugal by today's standards. Which isn't to say A-Reece couldn't be bothered with amplifying his music. That's not the case. He's just a rapper of rare vintage: happy to let the work speak for itself and impose itself on its own terms.

So what exactly is the 24-year-old rapper saying on his latest release?

More than just "real rap" pigeonholing

Sonically, A-Reece does enough to make sure the project breaks out of the self-limiting prison of "real rap". "HIBACHI", the second track on the album, sees him rapping on a heavily-filtered, drumless sample reminiscent of anything you might find on Roc Marciano's oeuvre. "I got the kind of drive impossible to format, nigga. Feeling like Neo inside the loading program, nigga. Was living like a nomad without a road map, sleeping on floor mats," reminisces the rapper on the song.

Alternatively, "THE 5 YEAR PLAN" (with its mellow guitar loop and blaring 808s) is one of the closest things to trap on the album. It's not Reece at his most lyrical, but then again, that's by design. "Ain't no way I'm losing this year, on my mama. Ain't no way I'm dealing this year, with the drama," he raps with conviction.

Read: The Mysterious Road to A-Reece's 'Paradise II'

While the mixtape itself is full of expansive raps, "THE 5 YEAR PLAN" (and the song that follows) do feel like they meander aimlessly, throwing out proclamations devoid of either meaning or emotional import. "THE SAME THING", with its eerie pads and lo-fi drum work is one such song. "Damn, life is a motherfucker. Hard to sit back and see the same thing that happened to me happen to you," the rapper deadpans on the chorus. But after hearing this over and over again, without any exposition on the rapper's side, the words begin to feel more like echolalia than an actual refrain.

But these lulls are so rare that they're eventually just swallowed up by the greatness that brackets them on either side of the mixtape.

Reece goes toe to toe with a rap legend

The project's high point comes in the form of "BRAVO", a four-minute drumless cut that sees A-Reece go head to head with South African rap royalty Stogie T. "I represent the Jacaranda tree line avenue. Where the women got the feline attitude. And niggas share a hustlers attribute. I'm only talking back to you if it's about revenue. If you got a problem, we troubleshoot, we perfectly execute," he raps toward the end of his verse. It's an unhurried, multi-syllabic verse in which Reece puts his stake for the throne. Part of it feels like a missed opportunity. It's not a terrible verse, but it's also not his top ten (maybe not even top 1000), which is a shame given how complex and layered Stogie T's verse is.

"Look, there's no country for old men, most of them ghost. Sugar kills, candy-coated nose, lost in the sauce. They call me western, I'm the dark horse that never was bought," raps Stogie T, referencing the seminal Cormac McCarthy novel, No Country For Old Men. Toward the end of his verse, he raps "Might miss at the first listen, it sinks in in a week". Such is the density that makes up his verse (you can read OkayAfrica contributor Sekesi Rasiphei's decoding here).

Read: Stogie T Delivers A Masterful Verse On Long-Awaited A-Reece Collaboration 'BRAVO'

But any deficiencies A-Reece shows on "BRAVO", he makes up for on the rest of the tape. "DICHOTOMY" is an excellent display of his storytelling skills (a 1:50 denouncement of monogamy and exposition of the end-stages of an ill-fated marriage). On "NO MAN'S LAND", he shares the harrowing story of a friend trying to survive the daily assault of nine to five and an absent baby mama to raise his son.

Ahead of his mixtape's release, A-Reece caught up with the website Flaunt to talk about what inspired his latest work. "It's a mixtape I've been putting together the whole of 2020. The last time I released an album was 2017 after leaving my former record label. A year prior to that, I released my debut titled Paradise that most of my fans still consider a classic. Early 2020, I made it official on social media that I'll be making a sequel to the record and it caused a frenzy. I figured maybe I should get in pre-game mode and give them a mixtape first. Something to hold them as I craft the highly anticipated sequel."

Perhaps this is what makes the project so astounding: Today's Tragedy… is not a loud and grand proclamation, it's a small and quiet statement from an artist well and truly at the peak of his powers.

Stream Today's Tragedy, Tomorrow's Memory on Apple Music and Spotify.

Image: Nabsolute Media

Reekado Banks Recalls The Carnage of The #EndSARS Protests In Single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

The Nigerian singer pays his respects to those lost during last year's #EndSARS protests.

Nigerian singer and songwriter Reekado Banks is back with a track that is as socially important as it is a banger. It seems fitting for the singer's first solo release of the year to be a tribute to his fellow countrypeople fighting for a country that they all wish to live in. The 27-year-old Afrobeats crooner has returned with endearing track 'Ozumba Mbadiwe', honoring the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that saw the Nigerian government authorize an onslaught of attacks on Nigerian citizens for their anti-government demonstrations.

The protests took the world by storm, additionally because the Nigerian government insists that none of the police brutality happened. In an attempt to gaslight the globe, Nigerian officials have come out to hoards to deny any and all accusations of unlawfully killing peaceful protesters. Banks mentions the absurd denials in the track, singing "October 20, 2020 something happened with the government, they think say we forget," in the second verse. Reekado's reflective lyrics blend smoothly and are supported by the upbeat, effortless Afrobeat rhythm.

In another reflective shoutout to his home, 'Ozumba Mbadiwe' is named after a popular expressway on Lagos Island that leads to the infamous Lekki Toll Gate where protesters were shot at, traumatized, and murdered. Although packed with conscious references, the P.Priime produced track is a perfect amalgamation of the talents that Reekado Banks has to offer; a wispy opening verse, a hook to kill, and an ethereal aura to mark this as a song as a hit. On "Ozumba Mbadiwe," all the elements align for Reekado's signature unsinkable sound to take flight.

Check out Reekado Bank's lyric video for his single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

Reekado Banks - Ozumba Mbadiwe (Lyric Video)

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