Reno Shakur is a talented, up and coming, 21-year-old artist out of Atlanta, Georgia. The Atlanta native has been doing music consistently for about six years, while regarding Outkast, Kanye West, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Tupac, and Eminem as his idols. Although Reno does not seek prominence, he is determined to leave his mark on the world through his relentless rap style and lyrical display. Reno recently won Pro Era affiliate CJ Fly’s “City We From” rap challenge, with his submission beating out fifty-nine other competing participants.

Reno is part of the creative talent agency “FILO,” which I am 1/3 co-founder and a primary A&R. Before recruiting Reno, what immediately caught my attention is his genuine emotion, sheer confidence, and raw aggression in his music, leaving no room for filter nor timidity in his lyrics. For those unfamiliar, Reno’s latest freestyle over the Notorious B.I.G.’s famous “Kick In The Door” classic serves as evidence of Shakur’s belief in himself. Failure to properly go over such a legendary DJ Premier instrumental, (or any beat of Premo’s for that matter) should be considered a form of hip-hop sacrilege, breaking the unwritten rule of respect between the artist and producer. Similar to how a samurai should never wield a sword that they cannot carry, an emcee should never touch an instrumental that they cannot execute. Despite Reno’s current lack of notoriety, the lyrics to his freestyle are top tier. Notable lines include: “I’m trying to do it big no pun[in],” which serves as a double entendre in reference to hip-hop legends Big Pun and Biggie Smalls. Another line is more brash, demonstrating Reno’s assurance of his own ability: “I’m more than a cold, I’m something like the flu, I’m sicker than you ni**** I’m corona to your crew.” Listen to the freestyle below and decide for yourself whether or not Reno has properly blessed Premo and Biggie’s gem of a song, or if he has committed hip-hop blasphemy.

Words by Brandon Washington