“Respect The ARchitect” – Ran Reed (No Sleep Recordings, 2011)
I know this jammie, “Respect The ARchitect” from underground favorite Ran Reed has been a long time comin’. Although I don’t quite recall hearing Ran during the height of his career (the mid-nineties), One Leg Up’s noted releases from super-producer, Nick Wiz, and his 3 (!) volumes of the “Cellar Sounds” series has opened a lot of doors to gain insight on the lyrical wizard that is, Ran Reed. Also, it should be noted that No Sleep has dropped a sh*t ton of goodness However, only unveiled as a CD release thus far, I can only imagine the demand the for the vinyl when it hits the shelves.
Here’s a little brief history on the Nick Wiz/Ran Reed “connect”:
Originally known as “Hitman”, the Patterson, New Jersey native started his well known association with Nick Wiz back in 1992, when he first started recording in “The Cellar” (Wiz’ recording/producing grounds). Repeatedly making the trip out to the studio, Wiz soon became one of the regulars; along with artists like Shabaam Sahdeeq, Native Assassins (Shadowz In Da Dark), and the Cella Dwellas. Eventually, Nick became the producer of choice for the Echo Unlimited “Underground Airplay” series of cassettes (which is absolutely retarded….see for yourself), and Ran, as well as many of the other groups Wiz worked with, were very prominent on many volumes.
These collectable tapes and their connection to the burgeoning “Lyricist Lounge” venue were calling cards for many of the area’s top up-and-coming talent, and Ran started buzzing because of the exposure. Dropping the “Hitman” moniker around 1995, Ran Reed and Nick Wiz continued the mission; recording dozens more songs together. Solo songs, as well as collaborations with the likes of Chubb Rock, DMX, Chino XL, Cella Dwellas, and Pudgee were released over the years on various white labels and 12″ singles, but the full length debut LP never dropped. In 2008, when Nick Wiz started compiling his discography for the “Cellar Sounds” series, many of these tracks finally started to get proper release on CD. Ran’s catalog actually ended up comprising a significant portion of the first two volumes of the series. Therefore, when “Cellar Sounds 3″ was being compiled, the over abundance of still-yet unreleased Ran Reed material made the decision obvious to release a dedicated solo project.
Here’s the good news, all of the material found on “Respect The ARchitect” is unreleased, none of which can be found on Wiz’ collective “Cellar Sounds”. Also all but three of the album’s tracks have production that is solely handled by Nick Wiz, the only omissions being “Voice From The Grave Interlude”, “The Pro” and “Pass Da Budda” which feature production from DJ Slyce & Andre “Be Devine” Berry. However, with a tracklist this is comprised of compositions from 1992-2002 from Ran Reed, it’s somewhat of an odd listen and can’t really be considered an actual “album” as much as it can be a “collection” or “compilation”.
Honestly, is it worth the $13.00 purchase price for the disc? Undoubtedly, simply based on nostalgic purposes. However, I must forewarn you, a lot of the tracks found on “Respect..” didn’t age all that well. Here’s the thing: remember in the late-nineties when acts like Showbiz and Buckwild were moving or evolving, or even regressing, with production that ventured away from the grit of well selected samples and swayed towards the traditional pre-programmed drum kicks with some to no sampling at all? Well, it appears that Nick Wiz followed in they’re footsteps as well as the majority of the production that arrives via Reed’s output from ’97 and afterwards, is somewhat bland and repetitive. Now, if you’re talking about some of Wiz’ production and the early workings of Ran Reed, I’m all for it. It’s amazing to me that I never heard this cat prior to the release of “Cellar Sounds”, because lyrically, Ran Reed ain’t nuthin’ to sneeze at!
On the mic, Ran Reed is very efficient, more of what you would call a visual emcee, as he paints vivid portraits of inner-city struggles throughout the disc intertwined with your typical braggadocio that you can expect from an emcee whose been in the trenches. Ran also can tell a story or to as witnessed with the appropriately titled “Fatal Attraction”. Personally, I would have liked to hear Ran atop other producer’s workings, if they even exist. Damn, could you imagine Ran over a proper production from Peter Phillips, Large Pro or Preem? I’m not mad at Wiz at all, but on rare occasion, Reed’s lyricism overpowers the beat that lies beneath his vocals.
So, to cop or not? Yes, most definitely! Again, props to No Sleep and their “For Those That Slept Series” (which also includes unreleased material from an array of some of the underground’s most respected emcees, to include: Godfather Don, O.C. and Kwest Tha Mad Ladd), as all of their releases, except the 85.00 per piece vinyl, are must haves. However, if you really want a release of unearthed gems to hold you over in the interim, I highly suggest you check this link out and get back at me! More on that link to come, later this week…