Reaux Marquez | Pass Go

 Evan Dale // July 21, 2020 

In every word he pens, and rap he subsequently spits, Nashville’s Reaux Marquez is an image of effortless creative genius and meaningful depth of thought. If you know of his music – which you should – you know though there isn’t much in terms of prolificity, it is more than overcome by capabilities. A capability to be aesthetically different; a capability to be thoughtfully mastered; a capability to be outspoken.


In fact, if any singular underlying mark should tether the underbelly of Nashville’s hip-hop and adjacent circles, outspoken is perhaps the adjective worth looking towards. Born from a city that has eternally played a keystone role in the ongoing fight for civil rights, the Music City’s true musical roots are, too, planted in the garden of black art emerging from systemic marginalization. And from the Garden, Reaux – who has long fancied himself a farmer tending to his craft – builds on the tradition of his city and his stylistic lane to say more, even while saying less.


Almost a year ago, Reaux released Pass Go, and though his own reasons for dropping such a fiery, revolutionary bop had been steeped in his experiences as a young black man from the South, it’s only continued to gain steam and sharpen as an anthem of widespread relevance with each day since. Accompanied by a set of visuals from emerging Nashville producer and videographer, JosephFiend (Country Cousins), Pass Go is much more than a single.


Posted up on Jefferson Street in North Nashville – the place he and Fiend would take us for a photo editorial for our ensuing interview – Reaux dons a Black Panther vest and a megaphone. And like the outfit, the locale is curated with racially historic purpose. Jefferson Street, at the heart of North Nashville’s Bordeaux neighborhood, as belayed in the video’s opening moments, ‘is one of the last standing wholesome black neighborhoods in Nashville.’ And from there – from out front Club Baron where artists from Jimmy Hendrix and Little Richard to Etta James and Otis Redding performed through the decades – Reaux leaves his own mark; makes his own statement.


Embodying the ferocity of the panther backbone and built on the foundation of North Nashville’s unparalleled musical past, Reaux Marquez seamlessly introduces to both intertwined cultural spheres the underground hip-hop scene now exploding from the city’s floorboards as a new cultural and social source of inspiration for myriad movements. Through the microphone, Reaux’s voice is muffled in chorus, and when undistorted in verse, it bleeds of purposeful poeticism. That’s his trademark. The power of projects like Pass Go will lead his legacy.


And it’s towards Reaux’s type of emergent legacy that we, as consumers of cultural capital, find ourselves looking in moments like the one we currently find ourselves in. Submerged in a newfound push for the Black Lives Matter movement, and with it a new chapter for the long fight for civil liberties, the consciousness that black culture has largely led the direction of American culture and subsequently that of the global popular norm comes ever more into focus. And it’s in tracks and accompanying videos like Pass Go that we find – beyond the everyday reach of black culture – a purposefully directed nod to the exactitude of issues circling institutionalized racism.


Reaux’s ability to convey his truths and tell his stories exists in an uncanny ability to rap by the style’s rawest and most traditional sense. Few in modern hip-hop come with the lyrical prowess and high-energy delivery that he does, and even fewer are so consistently driven to make deep, layered, thoughtful art with their natural talents. But Reaux does and has been doing so for some time. Pass Go just happens to be his latest, but his canon at large is, too, brimming at an intersection of raw art and poetic depth.


Be on the lookout for more from Reaux Marquez who has been cooking towards the release of his debut album, while also featuring on a slew of additional Nashville projects that are, too, steeped in statements both creative and social.