Reaux Marquez Breathes of Grass Roots Southern Hip-Hop with Exhale

 Evan Dale // Jul 13, 2018 

It’s one thing to write; it’s another to rap; it requires another level entirely of creativity and firm awareness to the self and to the wide spectrum of art in order to pull together a track and accompanying video as innovative and tactile as Reaux Marquez’s Exhale. The Nashville artist who broke newfound ground with his mellow toned and prominently penned Grapevine from earlier in 2018 – one of the tracks that defined our Spring’s soundscape – is back again with another entirely self-written, self-performed, and self-produced hit, equally lyrical, equally meaningful, and even more addictingly smooth and downright musical than his prior exploits. As we’ve touched on in the past, Marquez boasts an approach rarely paralleled in music where true songwriting comes first and each lyric is consciously balanced. 


But through it all, most amazing is his ability to make his talent seem to come so effortlessly. Posted up shotgun in the Continental wielding nothing but a cardboard sign, a sharp mind, and his powerful voice, Marquez makes quick and easy work of the Dilla-reminiscent beat he also so craftily assembled. Without even the assistance of color film, with only the driver and his friends behind the camera to credit, he unapologetically embarks down a path defined by vibrancy and intrigue only eventually silenced by a fade-out amidst a continued barrage of lyrical prowess. 


That lyricism, poetic in its delivered cadence, wrapped neatly in the cloth of woodgrain interiors and the textured sky above the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge, reminds us all what it is that first made us fall in love with Southern hip-hop music. It’s rare that an artist in the modern scene of transcendent musical ideologies and blurred lines of stylistic approach can make us think so deeply on the times come and gone. What’s even more rare is an artist who sounds entirely innovative and modern in doing so, but at that crossroads of epochal and stylistic differentiation is where you’ll find Reaux Marquez and his most recent steps toward prominence. 


The balance existing in his music, one that transcends geography and the slow push of time, is present as well in his videography. Simple, clean, meaningful, symbolic. His video works the bare minimum necessary, allowing the viewer to find focus where it is meant to be placed – once again on the words streaming from Reaux’s mind and soul.  


His sound is daringly modern and boldly inventive, yet it finds itself built upon the strongest and truest pillars of hip-hop’s storied historical landscape – flow and lyricism. Or have we forgotten that rap itself acronyms for Rhythm and Poetry? If one artist making a name for himself in the wide expanse and impossibly competitive hip-hop field stands truer to its roots than Reaux Marquez, we have never heard his name. 


He exists as aggregate of Southern hip-hop’s lyrically-dominant past and modern hip-hop’s productively boundless texture, leaving us to wish that all up-and-coming artists, innovative and inventive as they may be, were able to balance their experimentation with the knowledge, talent, and lyrical chops to pull something together that any artist, any fan of any era would be proud to label true, grass roots hip-hop music. 


Do yourself a favor: listen to Exhale, watch its accompanying short film, and be permanently on the lookout for Reaux Marquez who, with the forthcoming release of his project, Fif, will continue to push towards a rap rich in its lyrical roots and hip-hop strong in its boundless future.