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Overlooked: DeeJay Element “Reality Kings & Reason” (Album Review)

Posted by Dharmic X on 02/11/13 | Filed under Opinion, Album Reviews, Overlooked, DeeJay Element
Deejay Element is a pretty damn good DJ. How good? He just won McDonald’s Flavor Battle last week in Miami, a competition sponsored by Complex. As much as he knows what he’s doing behind the turntables, he also knows his hip-hop music. He wouldn’t have worked at the Fat Beats retail store in New York City otherwise. And perhaps most importantly (at least for this piece), he is also a monster producer, best known for the work he has done with his brethren in the Brown Bag Allstars, such as the entirety of Soul Khan’s "Wellstone" EP last year.

Last week, he released “Reality Kings and Reason,” a free EP leading up to the Flavor Battle finale. It is a collection of five songs, unified by sound and feel, that showcases the tricks he has up his sleeve for 2013. A release that came out of nowhere last week, it is definitely a project worth checking for.

One of the notable facets of the project is the hard-hitting, high energy for most of the project. “Sound Familiar,” the opening song, is a perfect example. Opening off with a quick vocal sample, snippets of which continue to loop throughout the track’s backdrop, the song transitions with a thump. The same can be said for “When I Grow Up,” noted for its prominent horn riff throughout. “Walk With Me,” the EP’s finale, is simply a banger.

That said, the project is easy to listen to for any hip-hop head, and this is due to the change of pace Element tosses in. The “End of the World Interlude” flows seamlessly in the mix as the only pure instrumental on the project, and it transitions right into the last song of the project without dragging on for too long. Would a rapper sound dope over the beat? Possibly, but the listener is not left with a dying need to hear an emcee on that track. Meanwhile, “Complex Individuals” is smooth and laid back cut.

The rappers on the project make it abundantly clear that this is a family affair. All four rapping members of the Brown Bag Allstars (J57, Koncept, Audible Doctor, and Soul Khan) make an appearance on the project, with AD flexing his chops twice. Other appearances come from ScienZe, Sene, Chaundon, and J. Swiss. All of these emcees have developed solid online buzz through their skills, and each one of them comes correct on this project. The lyrical highlight of the project might come from it’s biggest surprise, upstate emcee Gorilla Tao. Perhaps it is fitting that his verse is the very last one on the project, on the standout cut “Walk with Me.” Paired up with Soul Khan and J. Swiss, both talking about their journeys to new places in order to break ground, Tao comes off with a sincere hunger and ferociousness that is exciting to hear.

One would look at the sudden nature of “Reality Kings and Reason’s” release, the timing of the drop, and automatically assume that this is a rushed compilation of tracks to add to a buzz. And maybe it didn’t take that long for Element to put together. But the composition of each individual track and the arrangement of the five songs together was well-thought out and the result is a concise and extremely solid listen. The Brown Bag Allstars have been churning out project after project (both solo and collective) for months now, but this EP might be the creme de la creme (for the moment).

Download and stream link is below the tracklist:

Download "Reality Kings & Reason" via AudioMack

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