Review: Ray Reed Shines on ‘PacMan’

By: Ru Johnson

Ray Reed is a humble character by nature but anyone who has been paying attention to the indie rap scene knows he’s been at the forefront of the rappity rap rapping constituency for years. His rhymes are enunciated with the perfection of a phonics teacher, his stories are always real and authentic and, more importantly, he’s not an asshole.

I write this as someone who has studied Ray Reed for a few years. He shows up to rehearsal on time, knows not only his words, but the words of his counterparts and knows how to take direction in a way that would make Puff Daddy proud. He doesn’t tout his strengths in the way that lesser artists do because they’re more style than substance (though he probably should), and you rarely see him bopping around the city like an idiot with too much time on his hands. If you can’t tell, I like Ray Reed and he can rap with textbook precision.

PacMan is his latest release and the DJ Bandz hosted project proves Ray Reed has waited patiently to stunt on the game and he does just that.  He takes the term “secure the bag” to another level, maintaining his treasure through the trenches with an impressive undertone of urgency in his rhymes.

Obviously there’s a drug selling metaphor involved here (strictly entertainment, of course), and more pistol play than we’ve heard on his previous projects (nice guys tote the Dracos too…I know, I know) but the focus is on the formula of the lyrics. The double-time flow on “Petty,” the quick narration in “Part 1,” the point blank specificity on “Today” and the paranoid impulsiveness on “Training Day” will leave you with only applause to offer.

Thematically Ray Reed is working through the maze of the rap game, like the famed video game, chewing up the haters in his way and using their existence as fuel, listening to his muses (“Iceboy Speaks” is a nice look into the mind of his manifestation) and operating with a fearlessness that should have anybody sleeping on the young superstar absolutely terrified.

Listen to PacMan below.

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