The world was different in 2016, the year that Charles Nii Armah, known professionally Shatta Wale’s second studio album entitled “After The Storm” took off.
In two short years, the Gorle Gorno-born artist, songwriter, and producer saw his star take off in an unprecedented manner nationwide, probably worldwide and hype build as his expanding fan base awaited his next project.
Finally releasing “Reign”, we see an artist ignited by the world around him into an album as a microcosm of its time. Or, depending on how you listen, 2018 is a microcosm of “Reign” and the fierce energy and grounded artistry behind it.
The journey, we’ve seen from the unveiling of “Reign” cover is telling of the larger picture it comments on.
The album’s first track, “Don’t Baby My Baby,” tells the story of a male alpha holding onto his territory and being protective over his love interest.
More direct, and confident, Shatta took his role, where identity is fluid, but his mastery of hiplife sound shows itself as a peak to strive for. It begins the album as a realization of the coping mechanism music can be for artists.
Such self-assuredness is a connector throughout “Reign” as we see Shatta explore genre and sound as if he invented each himself.
With each confident stride, he makes each territory his own, communicating through his own musical lens and artfully crafting subtle, but good control with his lyricism.
The amazing part about “Reign” is its ability to project such intriguing messaging through track after track of thoroughly uplifting and energizing music.
With tracks like “Amount” and “Gringo” serving as anthems, their productions and melodies maintain infectious sensibility just inviting to join in and enjoy.
The stand out track “Mama Stories” tells an uplifting story on a gloomy beat, and if you listen closely enough, we can hear the overt cry of a man who is hoping that one day it will be all bright and sunny.
It’s a song for the drive home.
“Reign” becomes more and more personal throughout the album, culminating in tracks like “I Regret” and “Rosalinda” exposes his vulnerability, no matter how gangster he may seem he has a soft side and is remorseful of his actions.
Shatta Wale delivers an unflinching performance of raw, emotion-filled tunes from start to finish.
Each word is spoken with such conviction and zero hesitation.
Though it feels like a barrage of rhymes, what makes “Reign” standout isn’t the sheer number of rhymes per production but the fact that every song on the album is portrayed with a certain level of accuracy.
This fierce storytelling is what sets The “Reign” ahead of others.
Wale’s strength lies in his ability to transcend his personal experience to create something.
You might feel disappointed because you expected something different from the Dancehall king’s because he didn’t tell the story you wanted to hear. This is not an album for everyone.