Though not without its flaws, "The War Within" finds Wrekonize successfully showcasing a nimble flow, an introspective side and a willingness to experiment.
Those who don’t know Wrekonize from the group, ¡Mayday!, may remember him from the MTV battle he won, which was supposed to land him a deal with Roc-A-Fella (spoiler alert: that didn’t actually work out). Whether you remember his origins or not, whether you were looking for it, or stumbled upon it, his solo debut, The War Within, provides high-quality music for those looking for dope beats and dope rhymes.
Hardcore Hip Hop fans have a lot to love about The War Within. Wrekonize starts the album with “We Got Soul,” which features an array of complimentary syths laid over pulsating baseline. Wrek brings bars that are both though-provoking and entertaining from the outset, touching on the stigma of white rappers, biracial heritage, his mother’s stint as an exotic dancer and the ever-present Illuminati talk.
“Adrenaline” is the equivalent of “A Millie” meets Tech N9ne with a Crooked I feature. Wrek attacks the track with a flow very similar to his label boss, and Crooked I has no problem keeping up with the aggressive, rapid-fire delivery. Meanwhile, “Freak” actually features Wrek and Tech N9ne both using the up-tempo flow to speak on the wilder faction of the fairer sex.
“Can’t Be Alone” steps away from the hard beats and rhymes and has the Miami representative singing on a track that sounds a lot more like early ‘90s Alternative music of Southern California than what people might normally expect from Wrekonize. While different doesn’t necessarily always equal better, in this case, it works out well.
Wrekonize’s !Mayday! partner in rhyme, Bernz, appears twice on The War Within, including “Paper Trails,” which questions how social, social networks really are. Wrekonize raps, “They call ‘em your friends, I call ‘em connections / ‘Cause once the cables cut, they’re no longer there for protection / At times the Web can counter you conception / Break your spirit down and have you losing your direction / Wander through the wire, flying high over the cuckoo’s nest / And try to dodge the squatters who be comment bombing you to death / Does that seem like what friends would really do / Back stab and slash a massive bashing on your breathing tube...”
The War Within isn’t without its flaws. “Floating Away” is the cliché hallucinogen track that could have been done without. And while “Neon Skies” showcases the type of double-time rhyme cadence Wreck can pretty much do in his sleep, it is a bit redundant on this collection. Throughout The War Within, the positives outweigh the negatives. For every “Floating Away” there is a track like “Rise,” which finds Wrekonize being far more introspective, which is often when he’s at his best.
Throughout, The War Within, Wrekonize provides dope rhymes, substance, and even successfully strays away from the standard Hip Hop formula with offerings such as “All Alone.” The features are varied, appropriate when used (including solid performances by Posdnuos and Bun B on “Church Road” and “Easy Money” respectively), and Wreck never appears overmatched. At a time when many artists are flocking toward the same dozen beatsmits, Wreck chose production that is both different while still complimenting his flows and subject matter. A couple of great songs would have made this a near-classic album, but in the current climate of subpar rhymes, excessive useless features, and musical experiments gone wrong, an overall superior effort filled for the most part with good music is to be appreciated nonetheless.