By Kwase Lane, Features Editor
Key tracks: “Who Are They”, “The One”, “Aunty Lip Lock”
Crack Dreams 2, the latest project in Rx Nephew’s endless procession of releases, is a beautiful mishmash of boasts and self-condemnation. If you’re familiar with the New York rapper, you know he has a unique way with words, and if you’ve never heard his work, it doesn’t take long for his inimitable style to register. Rx Nephew’s work is ruled by contradiction. He’ll dedicate several lines to lamenting the tale of Job before irreverently declaring that he wants to “beat the shit out of Eve.” He laments his history of drug use just before criticizing individuals struggling with addiction for not kicking their own habits. Despite the staggering amount of tonal whiplash his pieces share, they are linked by a mutual understanding of pain and a desire to know what it takes to heal that hurt.
The first track, “Who Are They”, begins in Nephew’s typical fashion. Bars about his come-up are cushioned by thunderous 808’s, and he treats the beat as more of a suggestion than a rule. However, the swaggering quickly ends as he pivots to discussing that he sees his worst enemy in the mirror and how he wishes that his time in jail could’ve been spent with his daughter instead. By the end of the song, the listener is left with a measured account of Nephew’s capacities and deficiencies, along with the knowledge that he doesn’t plan to stop moving forward any time soon.
On “The One”, we find Rx Nephew in a more triumphant state of mind. Still, he avoids flaunting any wealth he might have, opting instead to celebrate his perseverance, aptitude for planning and daughter. Infectiously exuberant production accompanies this self-adulation. A blissful vocal sample coalesces with warped bass to form one of the best beats of the year. Rx Nephew has worked hard for every win he’s found, and he’s done his audience the favor of suffusing this song with so much victorious energy that they can’t help but feel like champions while listening.
This album epitomizes the raw authenticity contained in almost all Rx Nephew tracks. His self-written and professed canon is one filled with struggle and not just his own. This project is laced with tales of Rx Nephew’s absentee mother and countless “Auntys,” each searching for comfort and answers. Still, this project is filled with gratitude for the reprieves that life provides. Rx Nephew is grateful for his grandmother who took him in as a child, his daughter and perhaps most of all the lessons the pain he’s endured has taught him. Crack Dreams 2 is rainy day music for people who refuse to die and reassurance for those that want to live as best they can.