Review Summary: Renincarnated is a noble effort to return rap to its true form, presented to us by one of the last living rap greats of the 90’s – MC Ren.
It’s amazing how things can change over the course of 20 years. In 1989 he was revolutionizing hip-hop with the rap super group N.W.A, in 1999 he was in relative obscurity, and in 2009 he’s back in the game with a new album cleverly titled “Renincarnated.” Renincarnated is a noble effort to return rap to its true form, presented to us by one of the last living rap greats of the 90’s – MC Ren.
Lorenzo Patterson was the strongest lyricist and best overall rapper in N.W.A, but was always overshadowed by Eazy-E’s voice, Dr. Dre’s extraordinary skills on the boards, and Ice Cube’s delivery. Eighteen years and four solo albums after N.W.A’s breakup, MC Ren has perfected his rapping skills. But he’s still his same old self, even after converting to Islam. He raps about drugs and sex, and condones violence, just like he did when he was with N.W.A. Early west coast rap fans should have no problem with this, as any of the songs on this album could easily be swapped with songs on his earlier discography.
MC Ren still possesses the witty, but gangsta, lyrical prowess he had command of early in his career. He drops the occasional, solid punchline while still retaining substance and meaning within the rhyme and telling a story, - for example: “Still on my *** – what’s the name, what’s the ‘ville?/Tryna pull a nigga in like a fishin’ reel.” – which is rather rare in the rap game today. Nowadays, you will see either great punchlines, with little substance (east coast rap) or little punchlines, with lots of substance (west coast or dirty south rap) and for Ren to be able to balance substance with good lyrics is admirable as well as commendable.
While MC Ren no longer has Dre on the boards, the production on Renincarnated is rather good. MC Ren still has the g-funk beats that were prevalent in 90’s west coast gangsta rap, but he adds a little twist. Rather than being slow, sludgy, and funkadelic; the beats on the album are up-tempo g-funk. That is, all the sounds of the classic g-funk remain, but sped up a bit. This is a refreshing, yet simple, change in production that should be welcomed. Other than that, the 80’s rap samples work really well. He samples Too $hort’s 1989 song Freaky Tales on Villainist Tales and samples Slick Rick’s 1988 hit record Children’s Story on Knock’em Out the Box. There are even some rock-hop tracks which are good “Renincarnated” and Black Star Line.” The production on the entire album is delightfully creative, but still goes with Ren’s voice and flow.
Renincarnated is a REALLY good album. However, the bubblegum, auto-tune, dancing generation of “rap” will probably never discover this album. Thus it will never gain the mainstream success that MC Ren gained with N.W.A and as a solo artist in the late-80’s to mid-90’s, a time when mainstream success was actually respectable. But, this should not prevent a real rap fan – the real rap that MC Ren helped create – from enjoying this spectacular album. Renincarnated is revival of MC Ren’s career, and hopefully, of real rap.