Chicago rapper Reuben X has been on our radar for a while now; from overcoming homelessness, to coping with serious injury, he’s been through it—and it’s something that’s come across in his music. After a mixtape release followed by some (impressive) loosies, he finally dropped off his debut LP, Got Next.
The 13-song project traverses a few different sounds and vibes, which displays Reuben’s versatility, while also making it a diverse listen—this is a pro and con, though not a huge fault. The switching vibes makes it a slightly inconsistent listen from top to bottom, but really, it’s not a big issue. The LP bangs; let’s break it down.
An immediate standout was the single “Big Dream,” which we’d already heard. Produced by Menace (better known as the producer of Desiigner’s breakout hit “Panda”), the song is probably best encapsulates the overall message of believing and achieving that drew us to Reuben in the first place. The album seems to have two distinct parts, the second of which seems to begin with the bouncy “Potential,” carrying over into “Watch You Work,” and the heartfelt “Best Worst Thing,” which both sport a ‘song for a girl vibe’ and Organized Noize-esque southern funk.
Though never fully committing to a real street aesthetic, he does dabble in a more trappish vibe on songs like the opener, “Refuse 2 Lose” and “Free The Guyz,” which follows Reuben as he attempts to raise the capital to bail a friend out of jail.
“Expected” was a pleasant surprise with its cool flip of Mark The 45 King’s classic 900 Number loop—and its super catchy chorus, with the chant “we gettin’ to this money, we expect you to hate.” Another excellent track that has a different sound from the others is “Better Man.” On the head-nodding drum loop, he rhymes “no food on the shelf, but never felt starving, promised I’d make it even if you put me in a coffin,” as he describes the many sacrifices he’s made to put himself in a position to win.
A debut LP is—in many ways—your first formal impression of an artist. Reuben X does a great job of framing himself on Got Next, placing himself on the right path to potentially live up to the title.