There are several basic ways to evaluate a rap album. Are the lyrics tight? Are the rhyme schemes complex? How’s the production? And another point of examination sometimes goes overlooked: Would you have sex to it? Reach’s latest creation, The Pen Pusha Mixtape, belongs next to the nightstand with whatever other materials you call on to get it popping. Pen Pusha is a reminder of everything that’s good about hip-hop: social activism, finely woven lyrics and plenty of old-fashioned soul. Among local hip-hop artists, Reach stands out for his mature artistry and polish. At this point, it’s not a matter of whether he can rhyme but a matter of sheer entertainment, thanks to his ever-broadening MC skills. Mixed by DJ Ataxic, each track is its own reward of soulful production and inspired rhyme slinging. On the mic, Reach breathes fire and, more important, a palpable love for the legacy of classic hip-hop. For many artists, 18 tracks is mostly an opportunity for songs to trip over themselves, with a few misshapen joints destined always to be skipped. But Pen Pusha proves to be the perfect length to keep the bed shaking.

Categories: Music