Starting in 2017, Ralph Reign has been cracking open the local music-scene with metaphysical, mind-bending, astral-projection Hip-Hop; releasing albums, performing, planning, booking, and promoting live-shows and parties and the local scene. Last year in 2023 he released an 8 song project titled “The Climb”. It is an up the spinal-chord, cerebrum, cerebellum, musically smooth album with hints of R&B, Soul, and Hip-Hop slop all stirred together in a bead-wearing, natural-hair having, organic, sound-scape.
Reign reps Tacoma, however this is not the usual street-heavy Hip-Hop that our city is used to. Here we have a shroom taking, chill, low-fi, trippy, 8 song mood-enhancer. Thankfully Ralph is an adept MC and a satisfying crooner. Gone from the normal Hippie-Hop is the off-beat rapper. Reign has neo-soul chops mixed with a trip-hop, mature-man voice. He is able to rap well and venture into the strange, psychedelic realm that is usually reserved for clunkier vocalists.
I hear quite a bit of lyrical experimentation relying heavily on complex rhyme-schemes and melodies. If you are a fan of Freestyle Fellowship you will like this. If you are a fan of Bone Thugs & Harmony you will like this. It sounds a Stones Throw (pun intended) from a Quannum Project offering. Ralph produces the music as well as lays down the vocals.
By song 5 “Peace Of Mind” we have a faster-paced, more up-tempo Hip-Hop beat where Ralph Reign is able to spit his verses and sing his hook in a traditional Hip-Hop landscape. There is even scratching throughout the chorus. It shows listeners that for all the experimentation Ralph does he has one foot firm in the Hip-Hop universe.
The next track is “Stoop Kidz” where Ralph proclaims he is from Harlem U.S.A. This lets listeners know he is not a drugged out rich kid from Bremerton. He has true roots with his People, his home, and his culture. After this song, “The Climb” eases into a slick, nicely produced, more grown up sound. Song 7, “Lost My Mind”, is a thoroughly written and thought out expression of maturity, humanity, and how we recover from life’s lessons. The music is full of understanding and a certain calmness that comes with existential maturity. It is clear Ralph Reign is an evolved person making evolved Hip-Hop that is fully encompassing and diverse in it’s sound and structure.
The closing song, “I Will” is a testament to trying, growing, evolving, and realizing one’s life purpose. It is a strong way to end the experience. He is uplifting us through his creativity and through his recognition of our creativity.
Ralph Reign has 5 full albums on his bandcamp page here, https://ralphreign.bandcamp.com/album/the-climb.