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A-Reece, Loyal To A Fault

A-Reece’s introduction to the mainstream was written in the stars; an Emtee feature on his debut single Couldn’t, dropped under Ambitiouz Entertainment, one of the most disruptive indie labels at the time. Ambitiouz introduced us to a kid who would eventually form part of the next generation of hip hop stars. Emtee hook aside, he held his own with one of the most exciting talents to emerge from the South African hip-hop scene, in fact, his cadence and bravado could only be compared to another newbie at the time, Nasty C. At its peak, Ambitiouz Entertainment unearthed some of the most exciting talents, Emtee, Amanda Black, Sjava and Fifi Cooper to name a few. The label practically ran radio airplay.

A-Reece went on to drop his debut album Paradise on 21st October 2016. Barely 4 months later, together with Fifi Cooper, La Flame and rap duo B3nchMarQ, he left the label. The fallout was tragic, all these artists leaving the label that essentially put them on in one go wasn’t pretty. True to form, a day later, Reece dropped ‘Loyal’, a diss track directed at his former label. He didn’t hold back on anything that was wrong with Ambitiouz, including fellow artists he felt betrayed by. Naturally, like they did with Fifi Cooper, Ambitiouz blackballed the kid and he had to build a catalogue from scratch. Suddenly Reece had no radio airplay, nor could he perform any of the music released under Ambitiouz as they owned the works.

The do it on your own ethos runs deep within hip-hop and it was no surprise that when Reece, La Flame and B3nchMarQ found themselves out on the streets, the first instinct was to start their own vehicle, The Wrecking Crew. TWC has since grown to over 12 members, from Reece being the most noteworthy star, to a few bubbling under artists including Ecco, Ex Global, Flame and MashBeatZ. No management structure seems to exist outside the artists themselves.

Although he only released his follow-up album From Me to You & Only You a year after Paradise, in 2018, within a space of six months, he dropped three EPs back to back. None of these projects have birthed singles close to the stature of Couldn’t, Mngani or Zimbali, all dropped under Ambitiouz. Part of this could be the continued blackballing by Ambitiouz, but for the most part, the releases have lacked the growth and development expected of an artist of his calibre four years post his debut single. His general indifference towards PR and media interviews could also be to blame. Impressive Youtube views notwithstanding, relying on a few social media posts is not a marketing strategy.

Apart from the creative freedom he enjoys under the Wrecking Crew collective, the structure lacks the means to adequately nurture and develop his artistry. The TWC comradeship seems to benefit the other members more than it does their most standout act, outside the endless tap of features with the crew, there’s no other visible benefit to A-Reece nor his music. This extends to performances as well, you’d be hard-pressed to experience a solo A-Reece act without the burden of sharing a stage crowded by the crew using his moment as a launchpad for their own music.

Rightfully regarded as one of the heirs to the South African hip-hop throne and with the talent, skill, appeal and work ethic to match, he has the arsenal needed to summit to the very top. Pitted against Nasty C since their introduction to the game; Reece’s current situation bears a striking resemblance to Nasty C’s neglectful Mabala Music stint before his career took shape under Universal Music. Granted, there’s no recipe to the game, the question of how A-Reece would develop under the machinery of a major label or independent management of a capable A&R manager still lingers.

A-Reece, incredibly talented yet loyal to a fault.

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