REASON is continued proof as to why South Los Angeles has remained a breeding ground for some of the best names in the rap game. Since originally stepping onto the scene back in 2015 with the self-released mixtape In The Meantime, the South Los Angeles rapper has evolved over the years. He has grown into an artist more than worthy to stand alongside some of hip-hop’s biggest heavyweights, as is evident by his just announced supporting slot on J.I.D’s forthcoming ‘Catch Me If You Can’ tour. It is a clear potential highlighted throughout REASON’s phenomenal debut album There You Have It.
Before we jump into There You Have It, let’s back up a minute. After all, REASON did not get to be one of rap’s most promising new artists overnight. Releasing three free mixtapes over the course of two years, the rising rapper honed his innate talent for soul-gripping lyricism. Catching the ears of rapheads and SoundCloud aficionados, it wasn’t long before REASON would catch the attention of one of modern rap music’s most important artists. Cut to 2018 and before even releasing an official single, REASON is appearing on the Kendrick Lamar–curated Black Panther Soundtrack alongside the likes of SZA, Anderson .Paak, and Travis Scott.
A hell of a landmark for any artist, let alone an unsigned rapper from South Los Angeles, appearing on the Black Panther Soundtrack would arguably only mark REASON’s third most notable accomplishment of the year. A few months later, REASON announced he had signed to Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment with the release of his debut single “The Soul.” The passionate, earth-shattering single not only served as a brilliant proper introduced to the artist but ample proof that he earned his spot on the TDE roster.
Now that we have sufficiently covered some of the background, let’s get back to monumental triumph that is REASON’s debut album, There You Have It. The twelve-song collection is reminiscent of Lamar’s own To Pimp A Butterfly, albeit with a sound and story that distinctively belongs to REASON. Wherein jazz informed much of Lamar’s career-defining 2015 release, soul and funk is the cultural touchstone of There You Have It’s hallowed halls. It can be heard and felt in the heart-rending piano licks of “Better Dayz” and the sudden gospel breakdown in “Drive Slow / Taste Like Heaven,” with the latter track, funnily enough, is inspired by a Kanye Song that was in turn inspired by a Hank Crawford classic.
Every distinctive element that makes up this remarkable debut, from its rap skits, striking instrumentation and production, to its raw lyricism that paints an unflinching portrait of REASON’s lived experiences in South Los Angeles, makes it one of the most overlooked albums of 2018. This is the brilliant start of an artist who is penning a rich lyrical chapter in the ongoing story of West Coast hip-hop.