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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
R.A. the Rugged Man
Die, Rugged Man, Die
Nature Sounds

Rating: 8/10 ?


January 22, 2005
White rappers almost always have a gimmick. Let's analyze: Eminem ("I'm crazy, misogynistic, and from the ghetto too!"), Bubba Sparks ("My ghetto is the country, I slop the pigs, I'm a hick!"), Beastie Boys ("We love rock and funk and are very aware that we're white!"), and hell, even El-P ("Mmmm, science fiction!"). That doesn't necessarily reduce the relevance or talent of said MCs, but it is something to be noted.

Unfortunately, the same must be said for R.A. the Rugged Man, a for-real hip-hop vet who got his start when he was signed to Jive at the age of 18. Fortunately, R.A. is so incredibly dope that his shtick ("I'm white trash from Long Island; I'm crazy and I've been ignored for so long!") actually works in his favor.

R.A.'s broken home - Agent Orange crazed father, check; handicapped little brother dying, check; handicapped sister, check - provides ample fodder for his music. Those trying circumstances alone would be enough for several albums, but this rapper is also well-known (among true hip-hop heads) for showing up on stage in a suit, only to tear it right off and flaunt his sweaty gut. He's renowned for his torrid major label history - getting signed and dropped for his outlandish behavior, and allegedly sexually harassing a label employee. Not cool, Rugged Man, if the shit is true. Nevertheless, it's about time he released an album, and it's about time he receives the accolades he so rightly deserves.

R.A.'s flow is spot-on; his zombie-like delivery and stunted flow reveal self-deprecating tales dealing with the above subject matter as well as his eternally broke ass and lack of appeal to the opposite sex. It never comes across as self-serving, however. R.A. just tells it like it is… for him.

On tracks like the opener, "Lessons…" and one of the highlights, "A Star is Born," R.A. regales the world with his braggadocio-less stories of friendships and near collaborations with stars like Mobb Deep, Alchemist and the Neptunes. His Wu-affiliations seem to run deep as well, as Killah Priest and Masta Killa appear on the reggae-tinged "Chains" (produced by Ayatollah) and Timbo King appears on "Black and White." The latter track is a hilarious and clever play on the title words, Timbo spitting a rhyme a minute about all things black and R.A. trying his lip at all things white. "On the Block," a track that appeared on Soundbombing 3 as well, is a walk back through hip-hop history, as R.A. name checks almost every important rapper ever and reminisces about the finer things that you experience growing up as a hip-hop kid in the 80s.

"When I die I'll be choked up, jerking off, like INXS." Well, hopefully that won't be any time soon, especially if R.A. keeps his shit together, stays away from hard drugs, keeps his weight down and refrains from gunplay. Die, Rugged Man, Die should be in contention for top ten hip-hop records lists of 2004, although it will most likely be slept on by the masses. We can only hope we won't have to wait another ten years for his next effort.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker

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