Navy’s Reprise is the third album released by Navy Blue (aka pro skateboarder Sage Elsesser) in a little over a year. While this isn’t necessarily an amazing feat in itself – especially these days when some rappers seem to churn out a new album every other week – the quality and depth of all three is both laudable and a bit of an anomaly.
The two 2020 predecessors to Navy’s Reprise, Àdá Irin and Song of Sage: Post Panic!, were two of last year’s best – gritty arthouse productions with deeply personal lyrics and minimalist beats (mostly produced by Navy himself) that marked the arrival of a uniquely dope new voice in underground hip-hop. Navy’s Reprise continues in the same introspective vein, albeit with a style that’s a bit more straight-forward than its forerunners, courtesy of guest production by Evidence, Alexander Spit and a host of others in addition to beats by Navy himself.
Navy states early on in the lead track “Light” that “this is personal,” and the theme of his personal journey and struggles reins throughout. It’s a soul bearing project that also sounds soulful and deep. Overall, the production is lush and moving, vintage instrumental loops that aren’t quite “boom bap” but also not quite as minimal as Navy’s previous productions, many of which feature gorgeous melodies over snare-less beats.
Taken together, Navy’s trio of albums released in the past year definitely cement his place as one of the best rappers out right now. Highly recommended for fans of other forward-thinking acts like Armand Hammer, Ka and Earl Sweatshirt.