This album was released on April 17th this year. I’ve been putting off this album ever since it came out for one particular reason. This shit is long as fuck. To be fair, it has been 7 years since Legends Never Die, so I suppose he wanted to give his fans as much music as he felt like they deserved. I’d much rather have him split this in half and give us two separate projects than sit through 76 minutes of one album. Anyway, I’d definitely say that I’m a fan of R.A. as a rapper, but I’m not completely in love with his music. I placed this album on my priority list because every project he drops ends up having a few of the best songs of whatever year they were released, but they inevitably have a plethora of duds as well. A lot of the issues I have with Tech N9ne‘s music also pop up in R.A.’s music, albeit to a lesser extent. I’m not expecting this to be album of the year material, but it just might have a few song of the year contenders. We’ll see…
So, I actually wrote the preamble for this review about a month before listening to this project. By the time I heard it, I considered just scrapping the whole review. There are way too many highlights for me to not give my thoughts on it though. The album starts off with The Introduction, which might actually be the best intro I’ve heard all year.
The production switches up like 10 times, and it’s fucking glorious. Of course R.A.’s flow is bananas too. The next three tracks were all released as singles prior to the official release of the album. I praised Legendary Loser, and enjoyed Golden Oldies to some extent as well. The one single that I despised is called Wondering (How to Believe).
It’s basically like if Macklemore watched 13 Reasons Why and then was inspired to write a song about fucked up shit happening to teenagers. I think the verses are well written from a technical standpoint as always, but the hook from David Myles is unbearable. David Myles is to R.A. the Rugged Man as Ed Sheeran is to Eminem. It is disgustingly clean and… Well… It sounds white as fuck to be honest. I can just imagine soccer moms holding up their lighters at the concert listening to this while swaying from side to side. The song is terrible to me. It’s followed by a major highlight called Dragon Fire. This track features Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, Kool G Rap, and XX3eme. Ghostface fuckin’ slaughtered this shit, man. His verse is fucking awesome. Every verse on the song is really great, but he stood out the most to me. The bridge from XX3eme was actually pretty cool too. This song is followed by yet another major highlight entitled All Systems Go. The production from Michael Menart sounds like something from an old Western film, and R.A.’s flow switches up like 10 times. It’s awesome. As many have pointed out, Angelic Boy is pretty much R.A. doing what Eminem did on Darkness. It’s actually a lot like Tyler the Creator‘s Pigs as well. It’s like a hybrid of those two songs. The first verse is about the 15 year old character being bullied, and then in the second verse he commits a mass shooting and the writing is brutally detailed. The best part of the song is easily the final verse.
They call blacks, thugs, and Muslims terrorists
But I’m white, so they say I could’ve been cured by medication and therapists
They blame Facebook, blame video games, they blame the pain
They blame the gun owners, they blame the bullies; it’s a blame game
Blame the opposing politician’s policies, but wait a minute
They blame parents, everybody but me, I’m the one that did it
The conspiracy theorists and every Alex Jones fan
Is claimin’ I was part of a CIA mind control program
I got what I wanted: attention, fame, I’m on TV
No one cares about the names of the victims or their family
I’m the super star, the ratings booster, I’m media friendly
And all the glorification is helpin’ to create the next me
I was kinda torn on the hook from The KickDrums at first, but it grew on me by the time the song ended. I think it’s dope as hell. The next track is a lyrical miracle fast rap circle jerk with A-F-R-O called Gotta Be Dope.
I mean, it’s dope af. Yeah, the rapping is ridiculously fast paced, but it’s not like the writing is bad. I’m not completely anti fast rap. I’m cool with it as long as the writing is actually good, and that’s the case here. They also slow it down a few times, which is cool. The scratches DJ Jazzy Jeff are awesome too. It’s followed by my least favorite song on the project, First Born, which is dedicated to his daughter. I guess it’s very heartfelt, but this is just not something that I wanna listen to. A lot of what I said about Wondering applies to this one. It sounds like a Macklemore song. I wish y’all could’ve seen my reaction the first time I heard the hook from Novel. I was disgusted. I don’t think Novel is a bad singer, but this is just… Nah. I can’t do it. I think the song is wack af. Later on in the album, there’s a skit entitled John John in which R.A. promises his second child that he’ll dedicate a song to him on the next project. I’m really not looking forward to that, but whatever. Maybe it’ll be more tolerable. At this point, the album starts to get much more political, which may or may not be a turn off for listeners. Hate Speech is some slightly cringy shock Rap. It’s a relatively weak song for me, but I do like it. I think Teddy Roxpin provided one of the best beats on the whole album with that track. The next major highlight is The Slayers Club, which is easily the best posse cut of the year, and I doubt my stance’ll change by January 1st.
Every single verse here is awesome, but my favorites came from Chris Rivers and Chino XL. It was awesome to hear from Brand Nubian & Onyx again too. The next dud for me is The Big Snatch. It’s arguably the weirdest song on the whole album, at least from a lyrical standpoint. The second verse basically has him describing the most disgusting sexual encounter ever laid on wax.
She had a longer vagina wall than the Great China Wall
I cleaned the dirty pussy with a washcloth and Lysol
The fish was more enormous than the Great White Whale Orca
If the Statue of Liberty had a pussy it’d be smaller
It was the giant mother of all twats
Her pussy lips looked like the blankets they used to give Indians smallpox
I sucked on the slob’s tits, started givin’ her twat licks
But her pussy was more hairier than Chewbacca’s armpits
An STD came to get me riding on a Jet Ski
When she squirted, it’s like the water parted in the Red Sea
The lyrics might sound misogynist
But the crabs inside her vagina were stage divin’ and jumpin’ in moshpits
More insects than flypaper, pussy size of a skyscraper
She uses NASA’s space rockets as a vibrator, that’s my word
The clit was the Titanic iceberg
So I licked it ’til it melted and the climax occurred
And the vaginal warts on the cunt started beatboxin’, ugghh
Fuck it, keep the beat droppin’, I’ma keep rockin’
I make the cunt cum fast, I piss nails and upchuck glass
I toss the moon at the Earth and make the Sun crash
I drink cyanide milkshakes, and I snort mustard gas
Fuck it, I ruptured the cunt, and then I sucked the slut’s ass
9 months later, the Earth shook and the bedroom collapsed
She gave birth, a pterodactyl egg fell out of her snatch
And when it hatched, the dinosaur baby started kickin’ raps
The pussy spit out turntables, and the baby began to scratch
I don’t think it’s a terrible song or anything. It’s just… I don’t know why the fuck anyone would wanna hear this. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely intrigued on my first listen just because it was so comically disgusting. It was like a trainwreck that you can’t look away from. It’s not something I’d listen to again. It has no replay value for me, but I don’t think it’s bad. It’s just okay to me. The next two songs are again very political. The first one is called Who Do We Trust?, and it features a glorious verse from Immortal Technique.
Stem cells of Leo Strauss’ philosophy
The birth of neo-con policy, but I laughed at America’s fear
Of a New World Order controllin’ the hemisphere
‘Cause my people been livin’ that for the past 500 years
It’s some awesome, uber-woke shit. I hate myself for saying “uber-woke.” Anyway, the other song is called Malice of Mammon, and it features Chuck D, whose presence is very insubstantial.
I enjoyed his small contributions though. I think Mr. Green provided arguably the best beat on the whole album with that song though, and R.A.’s writing here is absolutely superb.
The poor get deported
The middle class get extorted
It’s corporate, the criminals are those the IRS won’t audit
Ponzi scheme make the cake off it, Bernie Madoff it
We celebrate givin’ thanks, having parades at Macy’s
While we invade lands, bomb hospitals, and kill babies
Mutilate human life, make hate, lie, take, rob, steal
Law-break, kidnap, murder, rape, for the money
The whole track is basically about how avarice defines the United States. The penultimate track is an incredibly sad skit in which Shaun Prices raps about her late great father, the legendary Sean Price.
My daddy’s Sean Price
His rhymes cool like a knife
Y’all can’t be that nice
He was the best flow spitter
My number one hitter
I’m sad I ain’t with ya, I love you
The closing track is called The After Life, and it’s really bad. It’s basically one last sentimental, melodramatic Macklemore type song. I think it’s well written and produced, but it’s just too sugary and shiny for me. It’s not my kinda thing. The vocals from Kelly Waters were just not enjoyable at all. I think the song’s wack.
I think this album is great, and it’s easily the best project R.A. the Rugged Man has ever made. Just as I predicted, it has some of the best songs I’ve heard all year. As of July 4th, I still haven’t chosen a favorite track yet. There are a few really bad duds that keep it from being one of my favorite overall projects of the year, but I’m super glad I didn’t skip it. I’ve seen a lot of people dismiss it as “Hopsin for boomers,” which I don’t really understand to be honest. I mean, yeah he’s an oldhead who raps fast a lot of the time, but I think it’s very disingenuous to boil it down to that. There’s way more substance here that people are overlooking just because it’s cool to shit on this kind of Hip Hop these days. I also saw someone say the production is unadventurous, which I couldn’t disagree with more. The very first track has one of the most awesome instrumentals I’ve heard all year. This is definitely far from a perfect album though, and I wouldn’t expect everyone to love it. I do think it’s worth listening to if you’re a big fan of Hip Hop though. The shit is long as hell, but it’s mostly killer with only a little filler. I think it’s dope.
Favorite Song: The Slayers Club
Least Favorite Song: First Born
Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.