The Reeflex – I Don’t Think This is Hip Hop

When I started this blog, I didn’t know that music blogs were regularly sent music. I simply assumed that they discovered music the same way everyone else did: friends, other blogs, shows, record stores, etc. This was because I imagined the process as much more a PR machine than it is. In truth, many of the emails we get are from the artists, representing and touting themselves. This makes turning them down a hard thing to do, so I love it when an way-under-the-radar artist sends me something I love. The blogosphere has a tendency towards lavish praise and I think this is the reason.

This is the case with The Reeflex.

The Reeflex comes out Florida. He left his Russian birthplace when he was four. He’s been doing music for two years-ish now. Pretty impressive considering the quality of his work.

I have a tendency to be worried when someone introduces themselves as a producer–it can mean a whole variety of things, many not so great. Reeflex didn’t say a lot in his email. Essentially, “Hey, this is me, this is my project, called I Don’t Think This is Hip Hop. Take a listen. Thanks.” No long bio, no quotes of praise, no real information but the music itself. I’m not sure what anyone else has written on this guy, but his project’s name is accurate. I don’t really think you can call this Hip Hop.

But then what is it? We get a lot of weird genre labels in our emails and they’re usually a little self-indulgent. Reeflex’s work is one of the few that needs a weird genre. “Ambient hip hop” is the closest I can think of. His beats are very textural, more akin to an artist like Gas than J Dilla. They’re spacey, slow,  even epic at times, and if it weren’t for the raps and samples he puts over them, it’d be easy to get lost in the feel of the tracks over nine or ten minutes.

The acapella raps he uses are from Stik Figa and TiRon, two artists I’d never heard of, but whose raps are commendably utilized. They’re hardly the centerpoint though, as he uses many spoken word samples from various sources. There’s the famous one from Office Space, one from Groundhog Day, another from an F. Scott Fitzgerald documentary, featuring the man himself. Reeflex twisted them with another layer. “Alone” is the track with Office Space. Peter Gibbons talks about how little he cares about his job over a distant guitar and slow beat. The scene, normally humorous in its ridiculous truth, becomes somber and even touching.

It’s the kind of sentiment that carries throughout the project. There’s a warmth to everything under the cold, plodding beats. A straightforward romanticism shows up on tracks like “Distant Crusades” and “Air,” even as they’re separated by the paranoia and destructive love of “All Day.” Indeed, the whole thing feels like a cohesive work, moving slowly to a conclusion. The final track, “To Wait” features a philosophical monologue about work, motivation and friendship as if to say “This is what it’s all about.”

In a way it’s all a little loungey. Not in the cheesy, boring singer way, but the late-night, last-to-leave-the-bar kind of way. It’s cool, it’s calm, unobtrusive but intensely interesting, and most of all, a great work.

Be sure to check his bandcamp here and download the album. You can nab it free or offer up a few bucks to this small timer. No matter what, it’s something worth having for a late-night.

Alone and Turboslow

mp3s: {Alone | Turboslow}

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