A-Reece, Wordz & Ecco - L3 (Long Lost Letters) Review

The Wrecking Crew are a great group of musicians with lots of chemistry, skill and abilities. They have talented wordsmiths alongside hybrid acts which dabble between melodies and rap. They’re well-known for the ability to release output in a short space of time while mostly, never disappointing their fan base. L3 (Long Lost Letters) sees A-Reece, Wordz and Ecco join forces. This is Reece’s first major return since he released “From Me To You & Only You”. 

Reece’s hiatus (although he’s been a guest on numerous songs while releasing “Gwan BIG UP Urself 2”) has been a major inconvenience for a fan base which has been accustomed to his ability to release high quality in a short time span. However, within this timeframe, it’s clear - Reece went back to the drawing board, heard the criticisms and progressed. He returns with vengeance and proves why he’s easily amongst the best MCs in South Africa. Similarly, do not be fooled, Reece returns aggressively and matches to his debut album heights but Ecco and Wordz are also major highlights throughout the project. Don’t underestimate their abilities -  Ecco has clearly put the pen to the test as he’s become focused, consistent and more alluring as a rapper. It’s a vast improvement that sees him elevate in the music industry. On previous Wrecking Crew projects, Ecco’s contributions were decent but not captivating. He seemed more like a friend who begged to jump on his friends’ track. I completely admit - my reservations and assumptions were wrong. Smooth flows and good wordplay throughout. I need an individual project. He can hold his own. 

Furthermore, similarly can be said about Wordz. Having heard him on Reece’s “Go Blow” on his three song and collectively grouped release (which is essentially an EP), ““Gwan BIG UP Urself 2”. His verse on the song was short but memorable. It was enjoyable but as replay value increases, it became notable how repetitive and simple it is. This was a flaw I saw early on but again, I was wrong. L3 sees Wordz step out of his comfort zone and directly in the stage light but.. he didn’t stumble on his words (excuse the irony). No stage fright - just skill. He rhymes intricately with flow changes and rhyme styles. It’s quite impressive. He became a integral part of a project filled with good lyricism, melodies and of course, magical chemistry. It’s the same trio chemistry that we see in “Off White” along side Flame and produced by Mashbeatz (who deserves way more credit). Their sonic directions are unified while their styles are different but always following one structured creative direction. It’s cohesive, genuine and always enjoyable. 

The sonic direction for the project was mostly dark but due to the light tonality and cadences of Reece, Ecco’s bass and Wordz heavy timbre - it contrasts well. The project’s jazz and soul-inspired direction sees all three artists favour introspective and insightful content as their content matches their creative direction. L3 opens with “Dark Daze”. With references to Tupac, the group add onto his notions of what he represents and the energy that he put out. The trio sounds raw and genuine. They discuss their struggles comping up alongside the issues surrounding label independence. Reece begins the song while Wordz and Ecco follow. The trio rhyme with high rhyme density, flow switches and exhibit their coherent chemistry. Wordz’s wordplay is humour and engaging. Reece writes with focus and detail is enticing as his content ensures your waiting on every word. The Wrecking Crew’s success can be mostly attributed to their genuineness. It’s their ability to tell their story while self-reflecting. This is the perfect way to start the album.

It’s followed by “Better Dayz (May 25th)”. The instrumental is based on choral vocals, soul-inspired piano chords, a beautiful guitar bass riff and soft but clean drumlines. The song focuses on their success after the “dark days” and the trio’s verses are heartfelt and indicate a clear sense of self-analyzing. As lyricists, everybody seems to have upped their ability as an MC. They’re paying attention to the small and intricate details which set good MCs apart from great MCs. Two songs in, the project sounds alluring and cohesive. The third track on the album is “Welcome 2 My Life”. The production is too smooth. A dark but mellow bass guitar alongside simple but unified drums. It’s somewhat a change in sonic direction as the production slows down but becomes more uplifting as the guitar’s melodies are entirely within major tonality. It’s simple bass chords but it sounds too clean. Reece glides on the instrumental. He flows with ease. Also, three songs in a row and Reece’s hooks have been memorable and enjoyable. He’s in his bag. Wordz and Reece go back-and-forth and it sounds dope. Wordz’s inner rhyme schemes are quite dense while Ecco’s wordplay is slick and his flow works well. All three rappers’ cadences work well on the instrumental.

“B T P H” follows after. The productions falls within Mashbeatz’s signature Caribbean islands-inspired sound. The drums knock hard. The song however is mostly underwhelming. Reece’s hook isn’t the one. Reece, Ecco and Wordz force annunciation to rhyme words while often find themselves off beat and misusing rhythm pockets. It’s an easy skip. “XXX” follows and it definitely makes up for the prior mediocre outcome. The song features Flame. It’s within a similar sonic direction as the prior song, however, it’s slower and filled with less energy. Reece’s hook is melodic as he highlights his ability as a singer. A well-formed hook alongside a well-fitted Ecco verse which sees him express his affection for his girl. Wordz’s verse is an easy highlight on the song as he rhymes with ease. Short flows and a confident delivery as he adds onto the cohesive love-related theme. However, the production slows down and transitions beautifully. As the instrumental progresses, Flame enters with his brass-like and soulful timbre. He floats on the production. His melodies are pulchritudinous and to be honest, the entire experience is tantalising. Protect Flame by all costs. The song began from the perspective of someone involve and through Flame’s lyrics and the production transition, those thoughts have changed. He wants space. It becomes telling when rappers focus on music elements which indicate a change in a story. They changed key tonality, introduced a darker timbre and slowed down the instrumental. It shows how they’ve progressed as musicians and not only as rappers. It’s the small details that matter.

“Juliet Rose” sees the trio change the sonic direction again. A synth, boom-bap drums, a soul sample and an organ in the background playing church-inspired chords. The song follows the prior and speaks of love and relationships. Reece sounds comfortable alongside his counterparts. It’s a cool song which is simple but carrying high replay value. 

“Holy Trinity (New Money)” follows and it becomes crystal clear, the trio didn’t take this project lightly. Reece goes crazy on this song. An exceptional hook and equally apr verse. When Reece decides to rap aggressively, he essentially decides to show out. He changes rhyme schemes while using a confident delivery as he skates over the instrumental. Everything he says sounds polished. Lyrically, this is one of his best illustrations as an MC. There’s also a lot of subliminal disses that need to be addressed but we’ll save that for another day. In addition to Reece’s confident delivery, Ecco rhymes well and shines but the best is saved for last. On already great song, Wordz and Ecco flip the script as the instrumental changes. Wordz’s flow is hypnotising while his use of wordplay and rhyme schemes is august. Ecco’s rhyme patterns are elusive and cool while his cadence is vibrant yet mellow. The instrumental change alongside the aggressive  style and deeper tonality of both rappers creates a great contrast. They made the most of the production with laser-deep focus  and ferociousness. The Holy Trinity seems like a suitable name now.

The instrumental smoothly transitions into “A Hunnid & Fifty”. The production is immense. A gorgeous piano motive, spastic hi-hats and a soft-spoken but enchanting guitar riff. The song’s content is focused on success and finances. In essence, Reece wants to be humble but  feels he works too hard for his accomplishments to be whispered. The trio talks that shit throughout. IMP THA DON’s guest contributions are worthwhile and memorable. There’a nice wordplay alongside a smooth flow accompanied by mellow cadences and a delayed rhyme style. The song is filled with quotable. Instagram caption type shit. The song ends and the final song, “Goodbye” starts. The production is characterised by a cool and distorted sample alongside some great drums. The first half of the song isn’t exactly remarkable because of Reece’s use of a slow and delayed flow alongside a low energy cadence but musically, it’s still enjoyable. It sounds like a good outro but after a minute of silence, there’s an introduction of a new beat. Similar to the first half, the production is relatively empty, however, the production is far more alluring. A light but appealing piano-based melody is played alongside dope hi-hats, sliding 808s and a cool drum patterns. The sonic direction is dulcet and mellifluous as Reece enters using a singing cadence. Reece raps but it’s mostly melody based. He focuses on love and his relationship throughout but his rhymes leave room for your imagination through the use of metaphors. The content, cadence and staggered singing style matches the soulful instrumental intricately. His counterparts sound equally comfortable on the instrumental and close out an incredible album on a definite high note.

L3 sees Reece, Wordz and Ecco team up and show their great lyrical ability but what’s more compelling is their growth as musicians and artists. They pay attention to the finer details and the production is remarkable. The trio’s chemistry is off the walls. You can’t go wrong with a Reece hook and verse, Wordz and Ecco verse alongside Mash’s production. However, what makes this project so much greater? It was made in 7 days. The focus, skill, consistency, chemistry and musicality exhibited is surreal and this project is truly impressive. Mashbeatz essentially cements his place as the best South African Hip-Hop producer while A-Reece shows what he’s capable of as a producer. His introduction as producer has led to his ear developing and ultimately, it shows in the music. Wordz and Ecco have shown their talented in their own right and I’m eager for individual projects. Long Lost Letters is great in every sense and an early frontrunner for South Africa’s album of the year. 



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