R E K O (pronounced Rico) is a Soigne Sound artist who not coincidentally is a co-founder of said same label. It’s always easier to put your product out when you’re the muscle behind it. It also shows a respectable amount of grit and determination to get ahead in an already crowded musical field. Instead of waiting to get a potentially small deal from a large label, let alone one of those extremely rare 6-to-7 figure deals with a huge advance to recoup later, you can DIY and grind to get your name and music out there. Instead of waiting on a pipe dream, the Miami based R E K O is doing it himself and putting “Very Special” out to the masses. Previous to this release you could hear him on songs like “World On Fire” featuring Jay Tee.
All of the songs on R E K O’s new EP are produced by C A L E E (seriously what’s up with the kerning and the caps lock) and the entirety of it clocks in at 17:31. Unfortunately this album isn’t scheduled to release until February 8th so there’s an embargo on sharing any clips from it, and I was forced to preview “Very Special” on a private playlist. Said playlist did include this description of the EP I’ll share with y’all.
“Very Special, the project that exudes confidence from beginning to end. It brings a lot of different styles to the table and a different flavor. It has been named ‘Very Special’ or ‘VS’ for short, from R E K O’s affinity for the famous Cognac’s brand Hennessy. Each track was picked specifically to create a vibe all the way through.”
I put that claim to the test by listening carefully to each of the five songs here to see what vibe I could get from them. Perhaps too obviously the EP starts with “Hennessy” which doesn’t leave a lot of room for interpretation. R E K O continually informs us that it’s the “only thing in my cup” and promises to “turn up a little bit” as C A L E E inserts sounds of the libations being poured. It’s thematically similar to Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools” but not nearly as hypnotic as Lamar’s T-Minus track.
“Day Ones” is R E K O proclaiming his loyalty to the people who have been with him since the beginning and vice versa. “I remember when we used to patch up at the movies/I remember when we used to show out for the groupies.” The anthem rides over a simple but clean C A L E E beat with a minimal amount of bass but some suitably thumping drum beats, and his “day one” Mike Price makes a vocal cameo.
Like most songs on this EP, you could probably guess what “Late Night” is about just from the title. If R E K O has a potential hit off the EP this is the one. It falls somewhere between being a Future and a Quavo track, where R E K O talks about finding a fly female for the evening while smoking and drinking (Henny of course). C A L E E gives the track a catchy whistling melody that could easily get stuck in your head after a few listens.
“High Speed” is probably this release’s low point. R E K O’s singing on the hook seems forced, and although he “struggle plenty and my momma barely had any” it’s a sentiment delivered by hundreds of other similar emcees. “Gotta make a couple million/pray to God to stop my enemies.” Does it actually take a couple million though? Living my own life I’d settle for making five figures — six or seven seems just about unobtainable. Of course in hip-hop having modest ambitions is usually not acceptable. You have to “go big or go home” since everybody else does the same.
I’m really not sure why the last song needed to be called “Tetris.” It’s the lone track on the EP that doesn’t betray what it’s about from the title. There are no video game samples or video game references. Most of the song’s subject matter is (surprise) about drinking Henny and hooking up with a fly girl while “smoking that la la la la.” In the end R E K O is an ambitious artist with somewhat banal and predictable topic matter. I appreciate anybody that’s out there grinding so I can’t knock the hustle but at this early stage in his career there’s not a lot that makes him really stand out.