Top Dawg’s Reason Comes Back with “New Beginnings”

Under the shadow of label mates Kendrick Lamar and SZA, Robert Gill Jr. has every “reason” to have a chip on his shoulder. As a follow up to his 2018 project “There You Have It,” Reason has come back with 14 fresh new tracks, continuing to showcase a raspy delivery and knack for punchlines that have made him a fan favorite among certain circles of the Rap community. 

The production on this tape for the most part was enjoyable. Which much of it being handled by Kal Banx, it featured crisp drum patterns and variety of samples ranging from the sinister keyboards on “Pop Sh**” to the uptempo remixing of an MF Doom sample that appears on Extinct.

Many of the cameos on this album were fairly solid, as we get lyricists like Isaiah Rashad and J.I.D. on “Extinct” where we see all three trade punchlines. Rapsody as usual bodied her verse on “I Can Make It.” Ab-soul’s appearance on “Flick It Up” — while different from what he’s made in his own discography — displayed decent wordplay and made an already fun track much more engaging. 

Much of the album’s run-time suffered from Reason following these cliche trends that we currently see pop-rap today. The spacy, hollow sounding-instrumental we get on the intro track, “Something More” sounds like they typed “Drake type beat” on YouTube and simply hit “record.” “Show Stop,” both from how Reason raps on this record to the hook mimics too much of what Yo Gotti or French Montana would put out as a single. 

Controversy following this album’s release came from Reason’s name-dropping of beloved rapper Mac Miller in “Fall,” which is a textbook example of “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.” It’s practically public knowledge at this point that the entertainment industry is notoriously predatory. Reason however could’ve been way more tactful when approaching topics surrounding Mac Miller’s addiction problems, especially towards the latter part of his second verse:

Look, you said you wanna be an artist

Well, we gon’ turn you to an addict

Surround you with some wack n****s

Some yes men that’s gon’ tell you that your raps iller

A couple cars, some jewelry, make your stacks bigger

Then one day you could become the next Mac Miller

REASON on Fall

The issue with these bars is that they limited Mac to his shortcomings, and while there are definitely people who should’ve been in his corner keeping him on a straight path, this point could’ve been made without painting him as another strung-out rapper. This is especially in how open Mac was about his own battles with depression. 

Through this album Reason struggles to stylistically seperate himself from his TDE counterparts. “Pop Sh**” fits far better on a Schoolboy Q album than it would in Reason’s catalog. In some ways it felt like he was trying to please as many as possible without developing a clear identity in his music. 

“New Beginnings” overall was an underwhelming album. Despite decent lyricism and beat making, the lack of a distinct style sonically and half-baked songwriting stunts this album’s quality. Moving forward in order for Reason to take that next step as an artist, he needs to focus on coming into his own, and not trying to follow the trends big on the radio. Otherwise, he’ll be just another punchline rapper sitting on the bench of a big label.