12 June, 2013@3:24 am
Despite only having two albums to his credit, R.A. The Rugged Man is a legend in every sense of the word. Hardly over-exposed, Rugged Man’s past antics have included getting dropped from his label in the 90′s (as Crustified Dibbs) due to “violent & disgusting behavior”, submitting a song to Jive called “Every Record Label Sucks Dick”, and parading around naked in a Smut Peddlers video with the BBW set. But his resume also includes some very impressive feats as well, including recording a track with Biggie, delivering one of the illest verses ever on Jedi Mind Tricks’ “Uncommon Valor”, and creating a fan-favorite web series called “Film School With R.A. The Rugged Man”, showing his incredible knowledge of cult films. So yes, this is a man of legendary status.
For his fittingly titled sophomore LP, Legends Never Die, R.A. builds upon the blueprint carved on his 2004 Nature Sounds debut, Die, Rugged Man, Die. R.A.’s stance on the entertainment industry hasn’t changed, despite the fact that the landscape itself has. He still blasts the music industry on a regular basis, defining his stance as someone that cares more about the art of rap than whatever one can milk out of it. He sets this precedent from the album’s opening track, “Still Diggin’ Wit Buck”. He further demonstrates how important actual skill is to hip-hop on music on “Definition Of A Rap Flow”, where he lyrically obliterates Biz Markie’s “Albee Square Mall” track. His lament for the business of music is further demonstrated on “Media Midgets”, and again on “Make You Famous”.
This will be a refreshing stance for many that are sick of the industry controlled sound of popular music, however it’s not one that hasn’t been explored countless times over the years by De La Soul, Jeru The Damaja, Common, and many other like-minded individuals. To avoid redundancy, R.A. does switch things up at times, such as on the heartfelt “Legends Never Die (Daddy’s Halo)”, a letter to his deceased pops, which finds him struggling to get out the last lines of the song.
Despite the album’s more grim or serious moments, he does cheese things up a bit, and this is the album’s only downfall. This begins on “Shoot Me In The Head”, which finds over-top, self-depreciating operatic vocals on the hook, and then again on the classical music riff “Underground Hitz”. The worst moment is “Luv To Fuck”, where Eamon’s ridiculous hook will draw out a few chuckles, but wears thin after one or two listens. Audiences will be split on how they feel about this side of the Rugged Man persona.
But that is R.A. in a nutshell. For all of his more grounded moments, the goofball from the Smut Peddlers video does come out at times, for better or for worse. But at 17 tracks length, R.A. has managed to create a solid, engaging album, with many standout moments, and an uncompromising view of hip-hop itself.
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