Reviewed by A.J. Jones
For those of you who may not know, or be up to tune on rap sprouting from Canadian soil, RELIC. (fka Relic the Oddity) has been putting it down for the greater good for nearly 20 years now. A bonafide triple-threat (MC, DJ, Producer) reminiscent of the golden era of hip-hop, Relly Rel was first exposed to many of us via the 2005 digital-only LP release of It’s All RELative, while 2006 brought us the introspective 6-song EP, Note to Self. Fast-forward to 2009 and enter The Green Light… where green means ‘go’, so, let’s get to into it.
The Green Light opens up with spacious, dirty drums and keys on the album’s title track. Rel comes off with a heavy foot on the gas pedal, delivering double-time raps over top of soothing background vocals that could easily be mistaken for vocal samples; think beautiful-raspy Macy Gray vocals, here. The vibe of the album quickly switches up a gear or two with jams like “Stronger” – an audibly delicious spiritual and mental exercise – and “Out There” – finding a vulnerable RELIC. narrating the hits and misses on the calling of his own life, sharing:
“One day taking a break to slow up the pace
I wonder if I’d be blessed with old age?
And if I was, would I look back with a smile on my face
For decisions that I make and the trials that I face today?
Sounds wild but it’s safe to say
Risk-takers will embrace the day, hesitators only waste away…
… I’ve gotta say my decisions been some difficult ones
But I never have to wonder what I could have become”
RELIC. brings along veteran Toronto-emcee, and active member of Method Man & Redman’s production team, Saukrates (“A-O”, Blackout! 2 anyone?) and the always intriguing Shad K for “Just the Day” and “Count Your Blessings”, respectively. We find Rel here reflecting on some of the ill’s of our society with sobering one-liners like “on the outside we hurry up to live and on the inside we die slow”, reminding us all of the chaotic, fast-paced world going on beyond our front door. While RELIC. and Shad play tag-team in a seemingly effortless manner, counting their blessings all the while reminding us of why we should do the same. We switch-up gears yet again on “Give & Take” as Rel offers up his own personal ‘starving artist’ ballad, fully-equipped with an addictive and meticulously layered chorus.
“Easy Now” kicks off the latter part of The Green Light, finding REL flowing effortlessly over-top layers of spacious and atmospheric samples. RELIC. also showcases his vocal versatility, crooning out yet another smooth and infectious hook reminding us all not to take life so seriously. Without a doubt, the highlight of The Green Light for me was “Time Machine”. Let’s just call it the rap version of “Ooh-La-La”; a heavy-laden track reflecting on past, present where REL asserts himself:
“If I had a time machine
I’d take it back to my broken past and rebuild ya na’mean?…
… I’d want to make it up to them
At least leave on better terms or stay friends
Instead of burning bridges and causing mayhem
I’d stop by and expose foes and fake friends
In an attempt to make amends with the many I offended
I’d find that letter I failed to mail to my Dad and send it…
… It ain’t all regret, so many great memories I’d never want to try to forget
My son’s birth is first I want to visit
And live it all through from an outsiders point of view…
… I was afraid, and life was an impossible task I didn’t know the way
Seeing it again would help me motivate to put a smile on my face
Would help, I probably wouldn’t recognize myself”
An unabashedly honest look into the life of the man behind the mic.
It is a shame that an artist with this much talent does not have more exposure as RELIC. proves on The Green Light that he possesses major label talent but with a minor label backing. However, something tells me that, in due time, the music will speak for itself.
For fans of: Sev Statik, Shad K, Theory Hazit
Purchase CD – download – iTunes