After three successful compilations, Reigncraft series founder KNDNM could have just thrown in the towel and decided that the innovative Seattle rap series had run its course. Thankfully for rap fans across the Northwest, that’s not what happened. This Reigncraft Volume 4: The Labor compact disc dropped at the end of 2004, and it is yet another action-packed assembly of varied hip-hop talent from the 206.
“Questions” by Unexpected Arrival presents a number of deep thoughts to chew on, set to a compelling, stark beat. “Dammit all to hell, my life feeling like a jail. We won’t win the war if we’re still fighting amongst ourselves,” goes a heartfelt line. “Questions” was also featured on Unexpected Arrival’s third album, My Life For Sale in 2005. Bad Luk is a Reigncraft veteran who had a track featured on each of the first three CDs. His cut here, “Expectations” is excellent, and it shows that his hard grind really paid off. Bad Luk’s voice carries a devastating urgency, and the lyrics are very personal. “I wish you had to wear my shoes, so you felt my scars, so you could deal with real life when you was dealt my cards,” he raps.
The strange, zippy Kuddie Mack beat on “Dents In The Trunk” is intriguing. Stretch uses a conversational tone in his lyrics, which makes his voice approachable and familiar sounding, removing the distance between listener and performer. Because of the subject matter, “Dents In The Trunk” reminds me of the 1988 classic “Cars With The Boom” by L’Trimm.
“Pick Me Up” by Cyphalliance and “Stomp” by A-OK both bring the backpack, freestyle-circle vibe. These two songs explore the “metaphorical oratorical” to use a line from “Stomp.” The whole point of Reigncraft is to place tracks from the wordplay world against other more gangsta-oriented type of joints. Now, twenty years later, the genre of hip-hop continues to expand into a splinterverse of styles and experimentation. Reigncraft Volume 4: The Labor reminds us that it all comes back to hip-hop, and we are all part of the same family. Written by Novocaine132