Kansas City, Missouri-based hip-hop artist Reid the Martian released in June 2016 a 10-track album titled Excuses Not to Sleep, defined by tight rhyming and impeccable delivery. The set is both uniform in sound and uniquely different enough at every turn to catch listeners’ ears.
The opening track introduces Reid’s style well. “Distractions” builds from a slow beginning to a steady mid-tempo number that channels old school hip-hop with a hint of 1980s pop music. The rapping is tight and the delivery easy to follow—if listeners are paying attention. Reid alternates between rapping and singing, the latter backed up by crystalline female vocals.
The percussion is complex and the keyboards seem unable to sit in one place for too long, infusing “Distractions” with dynamism. The use of horns adds a touch of jazz to a song which, ending at the minute-and-a-half mark, feels incomplete, tying in well with the topic of the tune; one can’t help but wonder if Reid got distracted while composing this track and never finished it.
The slow “Hideaway” is made up of only two or three layers: vocals and a couple of instruments. The bridge and chorus are anthemic, the kind fans would wave their arms to spontaneously during a live rendition. The chorus in “Way Up”, which channels old school hip-hop vibes, is also anthemic, with the entire thing including touches of pop rock; it feels at times as if Reid might have been aiming it to be an intense number, without quite achieving it.
Reid is inspired by jazz again in “On the Fly”, takes on funk in the danceable “Take Care”, becomes downright aggressive in “Trial by Fire”, and gets in touch with his sultry side in “Real Love”. “On the Fly 2” is more playful than its first iteration despite its slow tempo and its limited number of layers. The most intense number in the set is “The Other Side”, which also channels a healthy dose of optimism. Starting slow and building up in both tempo and intensity, it is also the most anthemic contribution to Excuses Not to Sleep, the sort of track featured in scenes in a movie during which the protagonist is readying himself or herself for a big confrontation.
Reid the Martian has put together an album well worth exploring. More information about him and his work is available on both his official website and on his Facebook page. Tracks are available on YouTube.