RA The Rugged Man emerges out of a decade- long hiatus in peak lyrical form, with his release, Legends Never Die. Once one of the most promising young lyricists in the game, RA has worked reclusively and periodically since he was signed by Jive Records at the age of 18, some 20 years ago. RA has long been known for his clear, smooth flow, and attracted mass critical acclaim for his 2 minute verse on Jedi Mind Trick’s 2006 song, “Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story”. RA has mostly stayed in the background of the rap game, rumored to be a ghost rider for several rappers. RA has even managed to write articles for Mass Appeal Magazine, as well as adding a couple of screenplays to his credit.
Legends Never Die opens with a very smooth intro song, “Still Diggin Wit Buck (Legends Intro)”, before diving into the album’s lone single, “The People’s Champ”, to which RA is determine to take an oddly vacant crown of an underground king. RA understands there is a good portion of hip hop fans that do not know his pedigree or his limited discography, but he is not relying on those logistics. RA is banking solely on his lyrical flow, and unlike 98% of rappers out there, he actually has the bars to back it. He combines the best parts of a Nas verse, with the aggressive approach of an Immortal Technique, but delivers with a gut of an MC Guru. Many hip hop heads would be outraged that any rapper could draw that many comparisons in one breath, but that’s what adds to RA’s puzzling career. The confusion comes with his limited record output, as Legends is just his second official release, despite a 20- year career and major praise from his peers, that once included the Notorious BIG. All of these thoughts come to a listener’s ears on, “Definition of a Rap Flow”, where RA delivers one of smoothest collection of verses this side of Illmatic. Another track, “Shoot Me in the Head”, takes some of RA’s frustrations out with the modern world, that range from politics to the current rap game, all the way back to his own career.
Although Legends Never Die is one the best rap albums of this young year, it does not come without any flaws. Luckily for RA, not many of the flaws are rhyme- related, but sometimes glaring production choices and inharmonious featured artists, such as Tech Nine and Masta Ace, who just don’t have the flow to be paired with RA. This is a landmark album for RA, and should provide ample room for some staying power.