Ron Artiste: R.I.D.S.
I love underground hip hop, however, there is a side of me that can sometimes take a liking to a slight mainstream, as well. So when an album combines the raw talent and lyricism of the underground and the crisp, clean production and sound of the mainstream, I get hooked in. Former Stones Throw label member Roc C teamed up with the always rugged Chali 2na formerly of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli as Ron Artiste.
I was a little interested when I hit play on the first track because I did not know what to expect. These were two very different emcees; Roc C, an underground, lyrical wizard on the mic with very complex rhyme schemes, and Chali 2na, a very rough, seasoned hip hop veteran with a nerve for tough rhyming. As soon as “Ron’s Theme” featuring Edo G started, I became a fan. The song is very contemporary with some synths backing a touch, Midwest-like beat. Then “Trapped In” hit off with a very ghostly beat and more synths and these two emcees dropped their verses with some intense flow. Something comparable to a Madvillain track, “Wisewords” featuring Oh No is a song for every underground hip hop head to have on their iPod. The track features a subtle bass with crisp percussion, a mysterious vocal sample and a looming bass loop. The whole production on the track is phenomenal and Ron Artiste, along with Oh No, goes all in on this song, rhyming in a very braggadocious manner.
Bursting in with a soul sample and a verse from former Little Brother member, rapper Big Pooh. His verse was incredible, and Roc C and Chali 2na followed up with some dope verses after the really catchy, soul-sampled hook. By now, I thought I had a contemporary gem in my hands, but something went astray as the tracks went on. These first four tracks were excellent ways to start off the album, but the album took a bumpy pathy to the end.
“Bar Catchers” was ok, and so was the Krondon-featured track, “High Enuff.” Both tracks stayed true to an underground, hip hop style, but they were talking a lot about smoking and typical mainstream stuff that doesn’t interest me. I know I said in the beginning how I appreciate the mainstream touch, but that’s more in the sound and quality, not the lyrics. Then the Ariano-feature track “I Will” came on and that annoying snare set-up comes in and completely turned me off. I was hoping for some seriously dope tracks to recuperate. “Riot In The Streets” featured another mysterious vocal sample and a really dope beat, helped me get back in the mood.
With a 16-track album, I expected more–especially from these vets. R.I.D.S. is not a bad album, but many tracks sound too similar. If they had taken a more concise approach, the album would have felt less cluttered.
MP3: Ron Artiste featuring Ed OG “Ron’s Theme”
Ron Artiste: R.I.D.S.