Radi-8 is a portrait of an artist defining her vision in rap, while also giving us a glimpse into her personal narrative of love, life, and loss.
Chelsea Reject is a 20-year-old unsigned emcee. A Hip Hop revival, lover, natty, creator of change—and that’s just what her twitter says.
Her aura is on some hood head-wrap tip. I met her at SUNY Purchase through Sahir AKA City, another Brooklynite emcee. They were bullshiting while freestyling, as we hopped around campus, drinking and exchanging smoke between coffee and dining room tables.
That night is a haze but I do remember her witty, complex, conscious wordplay, so when she released Radi-8 on Datpiff.com in the spring of this year, I downloaded the 14-track compilation with the quickness. You can too.
The album is skillfully engineered and produced by a plethora of talent. If any emcee should blow up, it is she. I mean it is simple, her delivery is tight, she is talking about real shit, and her style is New York to the core.
Chelsea Reject opens the album with Huey’s Intro—a sample from Aaron McGrudger’s The Boondocks cartoon series on Adult Swim. Huey states, “What do you know about my vision? My vision will turn your world upside down, tear asunder your illusions, and send the sanctuary of your own ignorance crashing down around you. Now ask yourself, are you really ready to see that vision?” From the gate, I deduced that I was engaging in a musical experience that is radical to the core of what today is mainstream rap.
SXSW drops with the boom boom bap rap politics. Reject proclaims, “They will never condition my mic.” The chorus is a catchy list of questions that asks what is the purpose of you, your art, and your existence. “If you really making moves, tell me what’s the word?”
In Never Know, Thinkin’ Bout You, Visible Plots, HisSong, and Fin we see the complicated enfoldment of love relationships through jazzy-string-bass tracks. Everything from crushing on someone on the low, to the shade of a dude trying to “chill,” to wanting a love you cannot stand, and a song about closure after a hard breakup. I.D Seker’s rebuttal is sincere, succinct, and on point. The dynamic of having a black male and female having a rap conversation is something I’ve never seen done before.
Jumpy Shit is a party anthem, but not on that typical get high and laid steez. It’s a hyped up track that samples Caltroit’s Gotatit. The hook is gritty and provocative. Again, commenting on the state of mainstream rap. “Up in their videos shinin'/Rockin' their conflict diamonds/ Rewind what I said and let that shit sink in/ Too many rappers rappin' /but they really need to be fans.” Amen! I would throw my hands up in a party to Reject’s rendition.
Nostalgia misses the simplicity of childhood. We live in a time where adulthood doesn’t look promising even with a degree. Reject comments on how expensive higher education is and there being no benefit. Aqueducts continues the narrative of school and following the status quo, but deciding that she wants to be a lasting architect of hip hop. Nobody vs Self is a coming of age song where Reject comes to terms with her destiny in music.
The second to last track Good Mourning is a play on words. Reject wishes she could greet her deceased aunt, “Good morning,” but can only do so through mourning.
I appreciate the sound, the lyrics, and the integrity that Reject embraces. It is clear she understands word-sound-power and although she has the lyrical finesse to fake the funk, the introspective nature of her songs comments on her own hypocrisies, showing that she takes responsibility as a growing artist and human. The album is a combination of brag, vulnerability, and Brooklyn.
This review came two seasons too late, but keep watchful eyes out for her next project, CMPLX, soon to be released in early 2014. Check the album cover below and don’t forget to download her first compilation here: Radi-8. I promise you will regret it if you don’t. It's free.
Follow her work here: @ChelseaReject