New Jersey MC Ran Reed was one of the most prolific spitters in the mid-nineties, with a formidable catalogue and a name that held weight amongst the heavy-hitters active in the east coast scene. 2017 brings a release of new material entitled ‘Still Commanding Respect’, and it’s an effortlessly executed hardcore boom bap album from a lyricist that crafted his skills in the golden era itself. Ran’s lost none of his sharpness, clarity or prowess, and the twenty track LP proves it.
The summery, upbeat opener ‘Timeless’ is a dope throwback to golden era hip-hop; flashy rhymes delivered with clarity and charisma sound silky over a simplistic, soulful instrumental courtesy of veteran New York producer Nick Wiz. The traditional east coast style comes complete with hard-hitting punchlines; Ran begins ‘Hard Rhymes with “Yo it’s the hard rhymer, I swing swords like Conan”, and his concise punchlines are guaranteed to land decisively, executed with a consistent to-the-point formula. U.G. of Brooklyn duo Cella Dwellas appears on ‘The Crew’, and the frantic production compliments the high-octane lyricism from the east coast icons.
Ran Reed recruits legendary spitter Bump Knuckles for the furious, indisputably banging ‘Pathetic MCs’; the powerful beat and commanding deliveries of both rappers make for an early highlight, and the animated, punchy flows ride the raspy production with confidence and control. The eery ‘Mind Of A Gangster’ is a brilliantly executed cut; the cocky, smooth flows are laced with precision and conviction, and Ran’s production is on display here too. His beatmaking expertise is widely showcased across ‘Still Commanding Respect’, with the MC handling the majority of the production duties across the twenty track LP.
‘Doo Doo’ is a piano-based beat, and the jazzy, staccato vibe is an instant head-nodder; Ran’s combination of simple, effective beats and consistently dope verses make for a winning recipe, and this is masterful chef in the kitchen. Veteran lyricist Shabaam Sahdeeq appears on the dusty, nineties banger ‘The Innovator’, and the stabbed strings back fierce stanzas as the two experienced MCs show their convincing skill-set. Brownsville duo M.O.P. kill ‘The Gun Boy Interlude’; the collaboration is a synth-heavy banger, and the huge drums pound as Ran, Billy Danze and Lil Fame trade verses displaying their accomplished penmanship with powerful deliveries.
Guest appearances, beats, topics and flair; Ran Reed holds it down from every angle on ‘Still Commanding Respect’. Ran kills the production on the majority of the project, with four tracks being handled by longtime collaborator Nick Wiz, and the consistency is to be applauded. The Jersey rapper calls on an extensive list of fellow writers to bless the features on here, and everybody brings their A game, and Ran is most certainly still commanding respect.
By Sam Bennett