Reaux Marquez is Nobody's Decoy as New EP Reintroduces Lyrical, Melodic Dynamism
Evan Dale // Nov 27, 2020
Words are always becoming easier to share and more freely breathed into existence, but at the same time, the ratio of those words worth consuming, to those words more preferably tossed aside, seems to simultaneously be declining. Not enough people – not enough artists – meditate on the meaning in their statement – the weight of their words – before embarking down a steady stream of them. In fact, if anything, those who we want to hear from: the people – the artists – whose words carry weight, evoke emotion, and provoke legitimate thought – often seem quiet when surrounded by so many so eager to be heard even when they have nothing to say. The smallest dogs bark the loudest.
Take, for example, music. The loudest voices in the scene today – the most popular names in pop music – are too often the ones that really aren’t saying anything at all. That statement shouldn’t be taken as all-encompassing. There are plenty of artists across the music spectrum using their voices for good, and using their pedestals not only to advance artistic evolution, but societal evolution as well. But there are also too many emerging hip-hop wordsmiths that could, and one day will, make a mark much more worth being heard than so many others.
Case and point, as it so often has been in 2020: the Nashville hip-hop and R&B centric creative community.
Nashville’s artists have stepped it up dating back towards the onset of 2019 and the world is beginning to take notice. An incalculable number of emerging names tethered akin by their collaborative support of one another, their Southern ubiquity blending the lyrical with the melodic, and their dynamic range of auditory aesthetics, has grown into music’s most explosive small-market hub for what’s next. But even in doing so, one of the names that people in the scene and people hip to it want to hear from the most has remained characteristically quiet and meditative. As project after project – album after album – of his fellow Nashvillians have come to the surface over the past couple years, Reaux Marquez has stayed calm, collected, and unendingly cool, appearing here and there as a standout feature on tracks and audiovisual projects like Brian Brown’s Runnin taken from now acclaimed breakout album, Journey, but not releasing a collection of his own or even a single since 2019’s Pass Go.
That changed today as Reaux Marquez released surprise EP, NO DECOYS.
When we connected with the North Nashville poet in 2019, patrolling parts of the city with a part of his crew, his addictingly laid-back demeanor was a particularly delineating ambience to the greater aesthetic of the day. It was hot – July in the South; It was humid and gloomy – another homage to the time of year and the place; but Reaux’s innate cool kept everyone else in the same frosty frame of mind. The day was peaceful, quiet, and mellow. NO DECOYS is vibrantly stimulating, violently penned, and executed to dynamic perfection.
Think Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole; think JID and Doctur Dot; think of their music as it juxtaposes their seeming personalities. Lyrically legendary, ferocious, groundbreaking, and unending – peaceful, discreet, meditative, and introspective. Now, think Reaux Marquez and listen to NO DECOYS. A master of directing his bottled energy towards his artistic craft, Reaux Marquez, for all intents and purposes, belongs in that same conversation.
Through only four tracks, NO DECOYS paints a vivid picture of the North Nashville narrator embodying the greater energy of his city’s explosive emergence into the hip-hop limelight. And per the stamp of Nashville, Reaux does so collectively. If the illustrative twang of Brian Brown has a box, JUGULAR’s pleading melodies certainly pull him out of it, bringing he and Reaux, instead, into a space undeniably reminiscent of EARTHGANG’s fast-paced, enigmatic, and experimental LaLa Challenge. With IN!, Reaux and fellow wordsmith on the rise, Ron Obasi deliver NO DECOYS’ standout hip-hop anthem, custom fit with heavy bass, an addicting Reaux hook, and a whole lot of Southern energy. And with PENNYWI$E, Reaux, Brown, Obasi, and crystalline soulstress, Yours Truly Jai – whose earlier 2020 project, Monarch should find its way to the must-listen list of any R&B fan – find a mellow, jazz-ridden groove worthy of a Nashville scene so firmly built on the foundation of organically instrumental and relatively minimal production.
Collectively, NO DECOYS is another project proving Nashville to be hip-hop’s most promising creative hub. But from the perspective of its protagonist, NO DECOYS is so much more. With the meditative dynamism of Reaux Marquez and all the words that come in tow with his artistry, another name – a particularly key name at that – is, too, lending his unique talent to an ever-evolving Nashville scene poised to take over hip-hop, R&B, and the grey areas of culture that orbit both spheres. With NO DECOYS: a project defined by the grey areas floating between so many established sounds, Reaux Marquez is fooling no one – is no one’s decoy – but is instead a firmly footed and now ever-present pillar for Nashville and for hip-hop as the evolution towards those that truly deserve to be heard continues.