Today’s Tragedy, Tomorrow’s Memory: The Mixtape is an astute experience in Rap musicianship, reflected by the sub-themes on ‘Residual Self-Image,’ which represents its nucleus.
As he told Apple Music Radio, he only had the courage and willpower to return to the microphone after a conversation with an old friend who made him realize the potential effects of quitting music.
He said, “He told me not to take for granted, the influence I have on the kids today, and how I can turn my pain into something positive by putting it in the music and overcoming it. To me, that means today’s tragedy eventually becomes tomorrow’s memory…”
Today’s Tragedy, Tomorrow’s Memory: The Mixtape is an astute experience in Rap musicianship and he expresses his friend’s sentiment on ‘Residual Self-Image’ and the record represents the nucleus of this mixtape.
It houses sub-themes of his loss, his reactions to it, his belief in camaraderie, the competitiveness and vanity of a rapper and his oft-hidden disposition towards love.
On the track he raps, “Acknowledgment without the accolades/Still, I celebrate/’Cause any day could be the last time I hear this record play/My heart is in a better place/My mind is in a different state/So I don’t even care how much the records made/How many lives can this record save?/How many minds can it liberate?/Feeling like I’m liable to make a change…”
On one side, a record like ‘Bravo’ featuring Stogie T makes this mixtape unrepentantly ‘Hip-Hop’ in its essence, aura and energy. But on the other side, it reverberates musical energy that transcends Hip-Hop.
A large part of that is due to the honest, morose and pungent topics and themes that form the album as well as A-Reece’s masterful ability as an MC and artist. Significantly, this album seems to be based on morose themes of loss, uncertainty and absence in different forms and it comes by way of friendship, family and loss.
However, in the latter parts of ‘Residual Self-Image’ and in the early stages of ‘Hibachi,’ A-Reece rises with the roar of a wounded lion and engages in braggadocio with impressive rhyme schemes and loud bars.
On ‘Hibachi,’ which samples ‘I Don’t Wanna Play Around’ by Ace Spectrum by way of Drake’s ‘Fancy,’ he raps, “Yo, my shit don’t fit the same, I’m gaining’ body weight/‘Cause I was on a beef diet, turning rappers to Hibachi steak… I am not a human, don’t classify me a mammal/When I enter the booth I’m synonymous to a dragon…”
On ‘No Man’s Land’ also sees A-Reece’ rap that, “I’m only talking to you if it’s about revenue…”
Other moments of boisterous lines are also present on this mixtape, but A-Reece sounds more convincing, believable and more compelling on the darker, more morose tracks. While a record like ‘The 5-Year Plan’ takes braggadocio from the angle of a come-up story, those tracks still lack the resonance of his darker records.
He raps that he is trying to get rich forever because “The richer you get the better” on ‘Jimmy’s Interlude,’ but admits the vain importance of material things on ‘The Same Thing.’
He raps that, “Yeah, one life nigga, all the money in the world can’t cop you another…”
Even when he gets pessimistic on ‘Mark 15:35,’ and raps that “All I see is evil,” he sounds convincing and fully indulges without making a case for self-pity. When he discusses loss, it feels cathartic and not performative. His truth seeps through, either he raps about the loss of his father or the exit of a lover.
Sometimes his loss also inspires longing. On ‘The Same Thing’ A-Reece raps that, “Tell me, can I call on you even though you’re on the other side?”
He also desecrates the concept of love as he raps, “I said love is a motherfucker…”
His disposition towards love is understandable when a listener reaches ‘Dichotomy,’ a record that’s seemingly birthed off an empirical gaze. So does his creative writing on ‘No Man’s Land.’
The Pretoria rapper isn’t all destroyed by the losses he expresses on ‘Jimmy’s Interlude’ though, it also gives him some perspective on what’s important in life. On ‘No Man’s Land,’ he raps about returning home, where he belongs while he subtly addresses gun violence.
‘Today’s Tragedy, Tomorrow’s Memory: The Mixtape’ is the best African Rap album of 2020 so far and that’s facts only. This tape’s only slight flaws lie in its tracklist and album title. For example, ‘Residual Self-Image’ should have been its outro.
Themes and Delivery: 1.8/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.9/2