28 Nov 2020
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Rei - Album Review: Hoea

14 Jul 2020 // A review by Steve Shyu
Over the past five years, Rei has worked his way to become arguably Wellington’s new king of Hip-Hop, on top of which he is also one of many in the rising tide of Rap artists writing in both English and Te Reo. Ever since I saw Rei open for Sons of Zion at The Powerstation two years ago, my interests have piqued further every time his name is mentioned on air or shows up billed on a music event.

I should state early on that, though my understanding of Te Reo has not exceeded Intermediate School levels, I still hold deep reverence for the language and culture. Needless to say, I’ve also been watching with equal parts interest and excitement the gradual rise of Te Reo in Kiwi music in recent years. Besides, there’s much more to music than just a song’s lyrical content, so understandably, when this album fell in my lap I was beyond eager to hear what Rei has been creating.

Straight off the bat in the opening instrumental, the cultural influences are clear, as heard in chorused chants and traditional wind instruments. Immediately followed by the lead single, and album namesake, Hoea, a groove-heavy number with a hyper-catchy chorus.

As with the rest of the album, there are some very clean and clever rhythmic manipulations in Te Reo on every track. It becomes clear pretty early in the album that one doesn’t necessarily need to comprehend the lyrics to appreciate the positive energy and songwriting that has gone into creating this album.

There’s the radio-ready Ohia, which is pumped full of melodic hooks smoothed out over a bopping, tropical-house groove. Most rhythms across the album revolve around deep bass kicks and snappy snares, in the mid-to-slow tempos common in hip-hop since the early 2010’s. Tracks like Ohia and Nohea lean harder into reggaeton grooves, giving summery and refreshing Pacific tastes that have long been signatures of Aotearoa pop and RnB. The more urban sounding tunes of Auahi Ana and Rapeti boast a generous serving of attitude and deep basslines.

Holy Heka, serving as the album closer, is also the only track that features English lyrics. The rhythms on this song are particularly deep, making it easy to picture this played at a downtown nightclub. However, Rei’s imprint of heritage is not lost, as samples of tribal drums and flutes punctuate the choruses. Possibly the most impactful track of the record, it’s an understatement to say that Rei has saved the best for last!

Hip-Hop and Rap music has thrived in New Zealand for as long as the genres themselves have been around; here, Rei has now left a mark on the scene that is unique and created a sound of his own.

Be sure to follow Rei on Facebook and YouTube, then stream his latest album Hoea on Apple Music and Spotify.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Rei

Chief, Rangatira, Fair-skinned, Rapper… we all have our definitions of ourselves and those that are given to us. Rei's album A Place To Stand is a personal and universal. It's beautifully produced with content that rides the line between reverse colonisation, inspiration, hip-hop, culture and a passion to make a dope album.

If Rei is an example of upcoming Kiwi artists, the future looks bright. From creating music the last 10 years to present his multi genre sound, Rei is definitely on the cutting edge, and is influenced by our global music community. Mostly by the UK House/Garage style, by Hip hop from major US rappers but, his album has the extra elements of Maori language, haka and kiwi slang, making the sum of A Place to Stand a smoothly produced audio experience. It also sounds BIG in a stadium or club setting.

Already releasing a number of tracks from this album, A Place To Stand includes beauties like Mix an electro acoustic ballad (with Rei on guitar), a lot of club bangers such as Deep and a few not-so- cheesy love songs like Basics.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Rei

Releases

The Bridge
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Rangatira
Year: 2018
Type: EP
A Place To Stand
Year: 2017
Type: Album

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