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Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Hip Hop R&B


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"HOPE wuz HERE review"

Hope Wuz Here
Journey Over Outcome Media

It would be tempting to let Reflect review his own CD, because so many of the lyrics on "Hope Wuz Here" apply to a qualitative review of this fantastic album. In fact, you almost don't need to go beyond the spoken word samples that make up the album's intro to get to a solid review:
"He'll tell you what's on his mind, but more importantly, he'll tell you what's in his heart."
"You can clearly see he has a dream."
"There's just something about this young man. You can hear pain in his voice. There's hope there."
"He thinks he can change the world."
On most hip-hop records, you could write off phrases like this as mere braggadocio. But Reflect proceeds to make good on the promise of those words with 11 tracks of superior flow; intelligent, thoughtful, meaningful lyrics; and truly original sounds.
"Hope Wuz Here" almost plays as a manifesto; or at the least, a very well organized research project. Reflect opens with a powerful thesis statement in "Intro/Change the World," laying the ground work for what he'll present on the tracks that follow. He sets himself as a voice striving to be heard, and striving to expose the injustices of the world.
The songs that follow make his case: "Same Day," about trying to overcome the monotonous trap of a bleak daily life. "Mr. Newspaperman," about distrust of the mainstream media. "Pass the Buck," about the inability of people to take responsibility. "Still a Star," about keeping up the enthusiasm and will to succeed despite overwhelming odds. One song after another, each with its own powerful impact.
It all comes to a head with the final track, "Things Will Look Up/Outro," an intense conversation with a higher power that also acts a summation of the events of the album, lyrically calling back to every track in a kind of closing argument.
The music is harder to peg. Reflect's songs don't really sound like anyone else's. There are clear blues influences, Asian overtones, head-noddin' beats and even some tracks that can get feet moving. Overall, the disc has a stark, sparse and intimate feel that matches well with the subject matter of the songs. But short of a sly lyrical reference to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message," there's not an artist you can point to that Reflect sounds like. He sounds wholly original. He sounds like Reflect.
Reflect wrote, produced and mixed all 11 tracks on "Hope Wuz Here," and even handled the programming and played most of the instruments. It would be an impressive achievement even if the album was a flop, but "Hope Wuz Here" is far from that. All of that effort wouldn't matter if Reflect didn't have talent. But he does, and that makes the difference between a disc that merely holds promise and one that fulfills promise.
Going back to that opening track, "Change the World" wraps with Reflect saying, "What you have here is everything I've got. I did the best I could on my end. Just be open and feel it."
There's no better advice than that. If you're not feeling this, you're not listening.
- Jose Diaz


HOPE wuz HERE (2008)
Many songs have received radio play at college level and internet streaming.

For Those Who Wait...(2010)
Many songs have received radio play at college level and internet streaming.

Moonlight At The Trane (2011)
Concert DVD



REFLECT's latest hip-hop album, For Those Who Wait...(2010), follows his debut Hope wuz Here (2008). The debut was geared to give people a sense of hope through its narrative and intimate feel. His latest soundscape serves as a ferocious catalyst for change. He writes for people in transition, for people with limited choices who still must choose--a situation that mirrors his own. If, as Kafka says, poetry is "the axe for the frozen sea inside us," then on For Those Who Wait... we hear REFELCT wielding his strongest weapon to date.

Poets know that poetry creates a space ("stanza" means little room). REFLECT acknowledges with grace those artists who have walked through this lyrical room before him: Tupac Shakur, Bill Withers, Rakim, Common and Talib Kweli, among others.

About his first album, Hope wuz Here, fans and critics noted the, "clear Blues influences mixed with head-noddin' beats." With his new album, listeners will hear REFLECT's impressive growth as a producer and lyricist. For Those Who Wait... was mixed and mastered at one of North America's most respected recording studio's, Cherry Beach Sound, (Toronto, Ontario).

Hope wuz Here received radio play in Canada, the United States, and major cities in Europe and Australia, with unplugged and acoustic performances in Toronto and New York. Recently, REFLECT headlined as Feature artist for the Toronto Poets Organization. Between the release of For Those Who Wait... and Hope wuz Here, REFLECT recorded the underground release, The John Legend Mixtape (only 200 copies printed).

Working in a genre known for its bravado, in his work and in his life REFLECT maintains his vulnerability. Through his thoughtful, soulful sound, he speaks to the have-nots who need the strength to change--sonically swinging the axe that cracks the frozen sea inside.

Written by Marlene Goldman with Andrew DuBois