Reggie VaShaun was born and raised in Waukegan, Illinois. He began rapping at the age of 16 as a way to express himself and get away from the troubles that surrounded him. The first song he ever wrote was to the “Success” Instrumental off Jay-Z’s American Gangster album. Now at the age of 24 he releases his first EP “Riches”, which features Kevin Cassanona, Jon Content, Eddie Lamont Aka Marcus G.R.A.M, Blake Novia, Shelby Obleton, Brianna Oglesby, Robina Strowder and DJ Ledroc. Producers involve in the project include Kevin Cassanova, Jon Content, Thovo Beats, as well as Reggie himself.
Starting off with the woman talking on track one, “Stimulus (Brianna’s Intro)”, I have to confess: this EP caught me by surprise, and then some. “Riches” has a refreshing flow to it that hip hop albums lately have been totally lacking. It exhibits hip hop artists, holding out their notebook and showing you a compass pointing to the true direction of the hip hop culture that most albums fail to point to as of recent years.
And it’s not just someone barely mumbling over lyrics with a single distorted drum machine going in the background: it’s drowned in superb instrumentals that leave your head moving while Reggie VaShaun and his featured crew brings their A-game to the mic.
“Motivation” shows how cocked, locked, and ready to rock Reggie is. It seems that whenever Hip Hop looks bleak there is a bright light that comes along and gives those of us who have been here from the beginning and knows what Hip Hop is, hope. And it just gets brighter as the EP moves forward, starting with “Serenade Ft. Kevin Cassanova”.
Reggie’s appeal comes partly from his novel storytelling and his raw honesty, and there’s no shortage of that on this EP. “Riches” sees a hungry young emcee fighting for his place in hip-hop while simultaneously opening up his stories like a novel listeners can hear told from front to back. Especially interesting are the sermon-styled interludes like “RīCHəs Or Riches (Eddie’s Interlude)”.
The production captures a deep, soulful and retrospective mood on “4 U Ft. Robina Strowder, Shelby Obleton, Blake Novia”. “On The Rise Ft. Kevin Cassanova, Blake Novia” is a major standout tune as the rolling bassline and epic keyboards drives the track behind Reggie’s energetic flow. VaShaun demonstrates his strengths on this 8 track effort with no filler and rarely a dull moment.
“RīCHəs Ft Kevin Cassanova, DJ Ledroc” sees the crew spitting bars on another dynamic instrumental. Though Reggie has a strong affinity for the ‘pussy’ word, which can be found sprouting out all over the place, there’s enough lyrical depth on this recording to balance things out nicely, between the profound and the profane.
The production throughout “Riches”, serves as adequate canvases, avoiding over production. Production is used to set a mood, and create a groove, not to carry a track, which is left for Reggie to do. So while the production is solid, it’s very clear the star of the EP is Reggie VaShaun.
What a relief that hip hop is still being created up to this caliber. If you are looking for a modern evolution of hip hop from the late 90s and early 2000s, let Reggie VaShaun take you to his “Riches”.