Feast or Famine

Artist: Reef the Lost CauzeTitle: Feast or FamineRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman

Reef The Lost Cauze is one heated MC. While his voice is not quite as intense as his JuJu Mob crewmate, Chief Kamachi’s, this Philly-native proves to be a true Master of Ceremony on his new album, Feast or Famine (Good Hands/Eastern Conference).

As a champion battle rapper, Reef’s still got plenty of scathing one-liners to go around.

But as he describes of himself on the aptly-titled cut, “Commander In Chief,” “I could be so inappropriate / but in the next bar spit a phrase that’s as deep as the ocean.” Thus on his first widely distributed album, he often takes things a bit deeper. For one, the poignant “Eyes Of My Father” sees Reef get inside his dad’s perspective in an attempt to figure out why he walked out. Then on the introspective “How You Lose Your Mind,” he describes in detail how dropping out of college and then eventually having to move back home is starting to drive him mad. As these tracks reveal, Reef undoubtedly has a story to tell and he relays the many angles of it well.

Yet amid all the personal revelations, some of the most enjoyable material on Feast Or Famine is heard on the battle-oriented tracks, which are accompanied by the neck-snapping beats of Eyego Direct, Snuff and other able East Coasters. Not to knock his more revelatory tracks, but this MC’s voice lights up most when he’s got a target in sight. Whether he’s persuading Hip-Hop imposters and exploiters to stop butchering the music (“Give It Up”) or just staking his claim in the game (“Commander In Chief”), Reef brings the verbal heat like few can. Sure he makes some lofty claims like, “I’m the next B.I.G. without the nigga Puff / I probably shouldn’t say shit like that / but I don’t give a fuck.” But the point is Reef can get your attention with the quickness because even if the listener may not, he believes in what he says 100-percent.

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