R.A. The Rugged Man - Legends Never Die (Review)

R.A. The Rugged Man - Legends Never Die (cover)

"Legends Never Die" is the second studio album from New York emcee R.A. The Rugged Man. The album features guest appearances from Talib Kweli, Brother Ali, Masta Ace, Vinnie Paz, Sadat X and Tech N9ne, among others. The album was released on April 30, 2013.


1) Still Diggin Wit Buck - The album starts with a dope boom-bap beat by Buckwild. R.A. tones down his frantic flow a bit to match the pace of the instrumental. He is still flowing on here, just without that crazy, hectic style that he is known for.
"This for hip-hop heads, everyone else fuck your opinions
This ain't generic pop, novelty rap
I'm reigning supreme
You about to hear a level of skill you won't hear in the mainstream"
This is dope. Too bad it's so short because it left me wanting more. Still, it's much better than a pointless skit intro.

2) The People's Champ - Apathy provides a hard-hitting vocal sample for R.A. to spit his signature rapid-fire bars over. This song has a ton of energy and R.A. just bodies the track.
"Yo, my flow reminiscent of a prime Grand Puba
My tongue sharper than the sword to the Japanese Yakuza
Beats always slamming like Dilla, like Ali was the man in Manilla
Man or gorilla, I’m a nicer striker than Anderson Silva"
The way he spits the rhymes is incredible. This is really dope.



3) Definition Of A Rap Flow (featuring Amalie Bruun) - True to the title of this song, R.A flows his ass off over a funky beat by Dev-1 and Marc Niles. The beat is dope, but the real star of the show is R.A.'s flow. He is spitting FIRE on here and his breathe control is amazing. Amalie Bruun provides some nice singing on the chorus, which gives R.A a little time to breathe in between the verses. Very ill.

4) Learn Truth (featuring Talib Kweli) - The beat, by Mr Green, is dope as hell with some nice piano keys, a subdued vocal sample and violins woven throughout the instrumental. This is a political/socially conscious song and both emcees rip it. Talib sets it off lovely with a fire opening verse. I was thinking R.A. was going to get overshadowed on here since Talib's verse was so strong, but he destroys it as well. It's not often you hear two straight fire verses back to back over a beat this ill. This song is banging and is one of the best on here.



5) Bang Boogie - R.A. once again showcases his rapid-fire delivery, but this time it's over a laid-back horn-infused jazz instrumental by Jussi Jaakola. This is more like an interlude than a full song since its under two minutes long, but it's still really ill.
"I'mma live my life, no consequences
Grab the barb wire, hop the fences
Indie rap fans, a lot are pretentious
Talk hip-hop, but never got in their trenches
Bitch, HA!"
Dope shit.

6) Tom Thum - This track is named after a crazy ill beatboxer from Australia who actually does all of the beatboxing on this song. The instrumental, by Will Tell, is dope and has some live violins with the beatboxing layered over it to make it sound even better. R.A. comes correct, but I'm not feeling some of the singing at the end of the song. Still, this song is fire and the beatboxing is top notch.

7) Holla-Loo-Yuh (featuring Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko) - The beat, by C-Lance, hits hard and is pretty good, but it starts to get repetitive after a while. Tech N9ne and R.A. the Rugged Man are a great match since both have really unique flows and sound good over dark beats such as this one. Both of them spit some ill verses while Krizz Kaliko only provides the hook. This is pretty dope, but it's not a standout for me (although both emcees are spitting fire on it). It's far from terrible, but I've liked a few of the other songs better.



8) Media Midgets - Buckwild returns with another banger. The beat has a crazy vocal sample with some violins and dusty drums. R.A. spits about media bullshit, endorsements, etc.
"You living in a nation living in intimidation
Due to primitive media manipulation
Terror tactics and intimidation, we lack innovation
Lookin for more fame, they control your brain
The gullible puppets of the public get played like a board game"
This is very dope. The sample is banging and R.A. comes correct, as always.

9) Shoot Me In The Head - Another dope vocal sample, this time by Marco Polo. This song is a bit darker than some of the others as The Rugged Man spits rhymes for shock value and makes fun on himself throughout pretty much the entire track. The song is dope though. The only thing I'm not really feelin on this track is the chorus.

10) Legends Never Die (Daddy's Halo) - Mr Green provides an illvocal sample with guitars and hard drums for The Rugged Man's dedication song to his deceased father. This is some real heartfelt stuff. Throughout the song you can hear the pain in his voice as it eventually builds to a breaking point at the end of the second verse when his voice begins to crack. This is very dope and one of my favorite songs on here.

11) The Dangerous Three (featuring Brother Ali and Masta Ace) - Once again Mr Green hooks up R.A. with a dope beat, this time with a nice piano loop that that has a scratched up Biggie sample on the chorus. All three emcees come correct and spit some bragaddocio rhymes, but Brother Ali really rips it. Another great song.

12) Luv To Fuk (featuring Eamon) - Shuko comes through to drop an ok beat for The Rugged Man to spit a few sex rhymes over. The beat isn't anything special and I'm not really feeling the chorus by Eamon. Like many R.A. songs, this song doesn't really take itself too seriously and can be considered a parody of many of the other sex songs out there. Regardless, this is my least favorite song on here so far.

13) Underground Hitz (featuring Hopsin) - Will Tell samples Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" for the second song on the album that I'm not really feeling. The sample isn't really flipped all that well, but The Rugged Mans lyrics are quite hilarious and he spits pretty hard on here:
"Rappers that speak with no heart, don't start
It don't matter, I can slay you to Bach, Beethoven, or Amadeus Mozart"
Despite R.A's good performance, the song is ruined by the weak beat, Hopsin's verse and the annoying chorus. Bleh.

14) Laugh, Clown, Laugh - The album is starting to lose a bit of steam here towards the end. The instrumental, by Vherbal, has a crazy circus feel to it and it's just ok. Once again, R.A. is spitting humorous bars in his rapid-fire flow. Eh, this is just average compared to some of the strong songs at the first half of the album.

15) Sam Pecknpah (featuring Vinnie Paz and Sadat X) - Now this is better. C-Lance provides an energetic, hard-hitting instrumental that showcases R.A. and Vinnie Paz trading off violent bars over it. Sadat X only provides the scratched up chorus, but it's dope. I really like this song, but I wish Sadat had kicked a verse. Still, R.A. and Vinnie rip this. Very nice.

16) Outro - Just R.A. talking over a Shuko instrumental.

17) Still Get Through The Day (featuring Eamon) - The beat, by Ayatollah, is quite somber and consists of some synths mixed in with a melancholy vocal sample. R.A. spits heartfelt stories about the trials and tribulations of his life while maintaining the mind state that everything will get better in time. The chorus, provided by Eamon, is much more tolerable on this song than his other appearance and fits the sorrowful tone of the track perfectly. Dope shit.

18) Make You Famous (featuring Block McCloud) - Vherbal comes through with another farcical instrumental that I'm not really feeling too much. R.A. spits three verses about people selling their soul for fame and such, while Block McCloud provides a minimalistic chorus. Eh, I could have done without this song.

I'm going to rate the album a

4 / 5

because most of the songs on here are bangers. The album starts off really strong and stays consistently dope until the last third of the record. At that point, the album starts to lose a little bit of steam, mainly due to some lackluster beats. R.A. The Rugged Man spits fire throughout the entire record and touches on a variety of topics including everything from political and socially conscious songs to braggadocio records to introspective tracks. This album is a must-have for any R.A. The Rugged Man fan or for any hip-hop fan in general.

6 comments:

  1. if i give any album a 5 in the past years, it wuold be this, defnitly. in MY opinion the best hip hop album in the last 5 years. it's so f*ckin amazing, pure talent and dopeness

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    1. Yeah the album is really dope. Maybe that last third of it will grow on me a bit in the future. Thanks for reading.

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  2. Nice review overall. I'm not usually a fan of track-by-track reviews (Big Ghostface Nahmean does it well, but he has the necessary humour to pull it off), but I completely agree with your conclusion, and you obviously know what you're talking about. You're right that the album loses pace towards the end, mainly due to poor beat selection, but I think that as fans we should give Rugged Man the benefit of the doubt; he's probably trying to make up for his years in the wilderness, even if that does mean overfilling an album with below par songs. I think Legends Never Die would make an amazing 12 song album, as it is it's just very good. I think he's definitely upped his pen game since Die Rugged Man Die, but given that it's been nine years (God, has it really been that long?!?) since that album came out we should expect the rhymes to be as sharp as possible. The same problems exist here that R.A. has always had - he prefers in-your-face beats to subtle instrumentals (I can't seriously be the only person who thinks that violins in hip-hop sound fucking awful 99% of the time); he goes over the top sometimes in his less serious tracks; he sometimes picks whack guests (I hate Hopsin [Eminem wannabe], Tech and Krizz do nothing for me, and I find Vinnie Paz way too angry and overly serious [I mean, the dude never lightens up], not to mention the fact that Sadat X, who has one of my favourite voices in rap, is demoted to hook/scratch duties) - but when this album works it hits hard. The intro and 'Bang Boogie' could both do with being at least a minute and a half longer because they are just that dope, whilst I fuck with that Talib joint, 'Shoot Me In The Head', 'Legends Never Die', 'The People's Champ', and especially 'Media Midgets'. But then 'Luv To Fuk', 'Underground Hitz' and 'Laugh Clown Laugh' are just three unignorably bad songs in a row, and they really spoil my view of the album as a whole. Despite my feelings about Vinnie Paz, 'Sam Pecknpah' picks it back up and the album ends on a high with that personal joint with the Eamon hook (seriously though, who the fuck is giving Eamon TWO hooks on an album in 2013? C'mon son). I honestly believe that if you took out tracks 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 we'd be looking at a five-star album. As it is, four stars seems about fair. Nice blog by the way, I'll be checking back regularly.

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    1. I agree on many of the points you made, especially that this would have made an amazing 12 or 13 track album. I also got the feeling that R.A. was trying to squeeze everything he could into the album due to his long hiatus. Maybe he should have dropped a 5-6 track EP/mixtape as a warm-up and then saved the best for the album. Regardless, the album is dope and hopefully he gets the support he deserves. Great post by the way.

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  3. Mike I almost completely agree with your review which is why I'm so completely confused as to why you just glazed over what is arguably the most important song in the past 5 years "make you famous" let's forget the beat for a second, which is sick by the way let's forget the flow for a second which is also sick.( which for some reason you decided not to mention), let's talk about the content which is extremely relevant scary relevant even and true . which is maybe why you and so many other reviewers decide not to mention it. You went into such detail for every other song, but this one you just for some reason seem to glaze over. If I Didn't know better I'd say someone was paying you and if they're not they should be. "I could have done without the song" really?! there are documentaries about what this dude is rapping about but you could have done without that right cause it's not relevant. "minimalistic" again really?! "I'll take your kids your mind your blood your life your soul" that's minimalistic really?!!. you obviously went out of your way to ignore this song to and barely mention it which scares me and I know that because you went out of your way to be very articulate and poignant on every other aspect of almost every other song. you must fall into the category of the people he's talking about. why else would it make you so uncomfortable? Please tell me what specifically about this song you ,hip hop and the world even could do without.  

    Letalnezzel ..honestly I shouldn't be using this many words on you but you have to be addressed. you obviously have no comprehension of real lyrical Talent if you really think Hopsin is  an Eminem wannabe and Tech nine does nothing for you, even if you don't like his content, his lyrics & wordplay can't be denied I'm not even going to mention the other dope artist that you just tried to throw shade on. "no internet nerds, trend following critics"  THAT'S YOU. Your a media midget. Give up . The only thing worse than an idiot is his opinion.   please excuse the grammar I'm writing this from my phone.   RA. if you ever read this post keep doing your thing hip hop is grateful.. (but you really should have made Hopsin come better then that)  

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    1. So, totally ignoring the beat (which I'm not a fan of at all) and the flow (which is good, but he had far better on this album alone), and focusing totally on the content, yes the song is ill. The message is dope, the lyrics are well thought out and RA doesn't shy away from making his point heard. I'm not entirely sure why I didn't mention that in the review since I do just seem to kind of briefly mention what he is rapping about instead of really getting into more detail about it. If I had to guess (and I wrote the review four months ago, so I could be off), it relates to the things that we chose not to talk about here (mainly the beat and chorus). Despite the great lyrics, those two things just kept me from enjoying the song in any real capacity when compared with the rest of the album (which is fire, by the way). Sure the message is great, but it doesn't really matter when the execution doesn't come together as a whole for a person. It's all subjective anyways, as music should be, but I agree I could have talked about the lyrical content more. In addition, I've never really been a fan of Block McCloud for some reason. Besides the line you mentioned in the chorus, the rest of it is just the same lines repeated over and over again each time the chorus plays, so it seemed a bit uninspired to me. I do have an open mind though so if you would point out some dope Block McCloud tracks I'd be glad to give them a listen.

      As far as the song making me uncomfortable, it really doesn't and I'm not sure why it would. I haven't read any other reviews on the album, so I don't know what any other reviewers might have said about it. Track-by-track reviews are tough though since everyone has that one song they are really feeling and the reviewer may not be, but it is what it is. I do this just for fun and to hopefully get word out about some of the lesser known hip-hop releases, but I won't change up how I feel about a song based on what's popular.

      So to answer your question, what could I, hip-hop and the world do without on this song? I can only speak for myself, but I'd have to say nothing....lyrically. There are other songs out there similar in lyrical content, but RA does his thing. I'd just like it presented better is all.

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