R.A. the Rugged Man is an MC from New York that’s been at it since the very early 90’s. However it wouldn’t be until 2004 that he would make his full-length debut with Die, Rugged Man, Die. This was followed up in 2013 with Legends Never Die which was so fantastic, that it actually gave this reviewer inspiration to name himself Legends Will Never Die. Fans have been waiting for a 3rd album & 7 years later, here we finally are.
The album kicks off with the title track, where R.A. triumphantly announces his return & I love how dynamic the production gets. The next song “Legendary Loser” talks about being a scumbag over a vintage boom bap beat from Psycho Les while the song “Golden Oldies” with Slug sees the 2 paying tribute to their influences over a soulful boom bap beat. The song “Wondering (How to Believe)” gets conscious over a gorgeous piano instrumental while the track “Dragon Fire” with Ghostface Killah, Kool G Rap & Masta Killa shows that all 4 still got it lyrically over a grimy beat.
The song “All Systems Go” talks about how deadly he is over a punchy beat with a slowed down sample & after the “Cancelled” skit, the track “Angelic Boy” talks about killing a 6 year old boy & getting killed by the cops over a tense instrumental. The song “Gotta Be Dope” with A-F-R-O talks about being ill on the mic over a boom bap beat with C-Lance with a vintage sample while the track “First Born” talks about becoming a father over a Mr. Green instrumental that enhances the emotion. Especially with that piano loop.
The song “E.K.N.Y. (Ed Koch New York)” with Inspectah Deck sees the 2 talking about growing up in the Big Apple over an eerie beat while the track “Hate Speech” talks about just that over an ominous boom bap beat. The song “Living Through a Screen (Everything’s a Lie” gets back on the conscious tip over a somber instrumental while the track “Contra-Dictionary” talks about hypocrisy over a hypnotic beat. “The Slayer’s Club” is a phenomenal all-star posse cut while the song “Life of the Party” speaks for itself over a classy boom bap beat from Prince Paul.
“The Big Snatch” takes a look into what’s in R.A.’s world over some plinky keys & a tuba while the track “Who Do We Trust?” with Immortal Technique sees the 2 talking about the system over a sitar-inflicted boom bap beat. The penultimate song “Malice of Mammon” stays on the political tip over a haunting beat & then after the “Sean riP” interlude, “The After Life” pays tribute to Sarah Smith over an angelic boom bap beat from The Jokerr.
For the long wait, it’s really great & I’d put it behind his last album for his best work. There are some filler cuts to be expected during the 77 minute runtime but the feature list is top notch, the production’s on point & R.A.’s lyricism has only gotten more clever with time. If you wanna see someone remind you why he’s a veteran in the underground, then give this a listen.