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A one-hot-album-every-ten-years average. The thing is, he’s only put out two albums in ten years.

The complexity of R.A. The Rugged Man‘s career emanates from his rather shorthanded discography, which isn’t even a mere representative of the material he’s supplied the genre since first signing a label deal 21 years ago. Though he’s worked with legends such as ODB and Biggie Smalls among others, the Long Island, New York native only has two albums on wax to his credit. Its an interesting dynamic considering the critical acclaim that has been dished out in regards to his efforts on the microphone have been plentiful, especially the intense moments he recounted on Jedi Mind Tricks’ “Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story”, which, ironically enough was chosen to be The Source’s “Hip-Hop Quotable” 7 years ago. With Legends Never Die, the perennial independent champ of flows and cadences has returned for his first LP in just under 10 years, in an attempt to remind the listening public that among the haphazardly put together projects circulating the airwaves in the present day, there are still artists paying very close attention to each word they spit, rather than how their hat is cocked.


The album is quite lengthy, which is more of a con than a pro when it comes to R.A., who’s been known to be quite loquacious with his verses, which, as good as they are, began to drag on significantly less effortlessly as they did in the album’s opening moments. However, that being said, The Rugged Man is in top form. Beginning with what was a single off the album, “People’s Champ”, the relentless spitter is taking no hostages, daring anyone to pit him against any rapper, or Jesus for that matter, and proclaiming that he’d win handily. Though the beat seems to be quite straightforward, the method with which R.A. approaches it is rather unorthodox, which could make for an enjoyable or a daunting listening experience, depending on the listener’s preference.

The best part about Legends Never Die is the ridiculously meticulous approach R.A. took to crafting each concept of every song. There are no filler tracks, so look elsewhere for them. Even the raunchy, dangerous, almost offensively explicit “Luv To Fuck”, shows The Rugged Man exhausting his concept, never straying from the focus of the song, as Eamon belts out “love tearing up that butt”, on the hilariously engaging chorus of the song. Another great example of this is “Shoot Me In The Head”, where the Suffolk County product raps with pent-up aggression on the track, keeping his flows sharp as ever, speaking with reckless abandon about the ups-and-downs of his life thus far, sarcastically toying with the fans on the chorus, making for an extremely inventive standout record.

Why it took R.A. 9 years to give us a follow up to the margin-pushing Die, Rugged Man, Die is beyond us. Most likely the same reason it took us 12 years to get a physical record from the independent monstrous lyricist, the politics of the industry can be a b*tch. From Priority to Nature Sounds though, fortunately, one thing hasn’t changed, and that’s the music. There’s something to be said about an individual that is enjoying his 3rd decade as a member of this cutthroat industry, and can still make relevant music rivaling the most prevalent material that’s currently out. And for those that don’t think Legends Never Die rivals today’s prevalent material, simply press play on track 3, the tightly-run lyrical battleship better known as “Definition Of A Rap Flow”, and we dare you to imagine a verse out today that can compete with that on just about any level.

-Khari Nixon

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