4 ½ stars
Reyes, a former Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) student is a poet, actor, activist, spoken word and hip hop artist who writes songs that are not only thought provoking but are relieving of a history untold in most history books. Reyes teams up with local DJ, DJ O-Zone to produce Reyes’ second album, “We Are.” His slick rhyme schemes on oppression, politics and current society are fused with original beats from DJ O-zone to create an album that’s worth listening to a number of times.
Reyes knows who he is an artist, and that’s one of the best aspects to this album. When it comes to his lyrics and vocal style, there doesn’t seem to be much guess work on his part. He knows what he wants to say and with each punching lyric, Reyes’ confidence and passion resonates.
The opening and title track “We Are” works as an anthem for the struggles and perseverance of the Latino community as a whole and sets the tone for the album. Compelling lyrics like, “We are those who create love from hate, hope from despair, compassion from none, humility from arrogance. We are those who say live and help to live. We are five hundred years of resistance. Welcome to America. Welcome to the new world,” talk of how Latinos/as are united due to their stories and histories despite what country they’re from.
Throughout the album, listeners can hear a poetically deep understanding for those who have struggled and the current obstacles that face our society. The fourth track “In Search for the Light” hits close to home for all Chicagoans. The song starts off with a reporter talking on a newscast and saying how Chicago is “under a siege of violence.” Reyes continues the track with the corruption, disease and poverty that plagues the city. Like all of the other tracks on the album, “In Search for the Light” does not disappoint on delivering smart, brain punching lyrics such as “oppression makes no sense , only dollars and cents.” Lyrics about the struggling and the oppressed cements him as an artist who works to be a voice for the voiceless.
Listeners can hear a more intimate side of Reyes in “Morena De Mi Corazon,”as the lyrics are touching and offer a glimpse of his own upbringing. This song in particular speaks of his mother, along with the other women who have helped shape the individual he is. Lyrics like “Morena made by God cleaned kitchens ,mopped floors and managed to raise doctors, lawyers, engineers, writers and photographers and still cooked tortillas , frijoles and carnitas all in the same day, ” help to make the track a tribute to the strong Latina women who have helped shape some of today’s successful leaders.
The album also has beats and aspects that spoken word and hip/hop fans can appreciate. When it comes to his vocal style, Reyes’ knows exactly when to place the punch in his voice when it comes to his delivery. In the track “Good Old Days,” Reyes’ uses his signature form of lyrical delivery to flow over a sample of the instrumental “Ready or Not” by The Fugees. The instrumental makes the style reminiscent of the ‘good old days’ of 90’s hip hop when artists like Lauryn Hill were on the scene.
For those who are looking for thought –provoking tracks with a serious lyrical punch, Reyes will not disappoint.
For more information on Reyes and his album, go to Reyespoetry.com.