Yung Rick - Love + Life
Posted by Jim Clifford on Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 1:11pm EST
There are many things in life that are mysteriously both interchangeable and dependent. As kids we would quiz each other on which end of the extreme pendulum we would want to live on, if we had a choice. "Would you rather be a millionaire with no real friends or broke and homeless but have a close community?" Then there are either-or ultimatums that are spoken either in jest or in sternness to challenge a mindset that can't imagine a world without both sides of the ultimatum's coin. The Texas emcee Yung Rick, in the concept and album title of his latest, instead of asking either life without love or love without life, welds the two together in a world view expressed in Love + Life.
"intro" exceeds where many similar opening tracks stumble because it seeks to introduce the listener to the master of ceremonies they'll be spending the next hour with instead of attempting to create instant hype with loud declarations over bumpy 808s. Choir echoes, simplistic wordplay (Not a bad thing) and opening and closing audio clips from Spider Man films reach the desired target. "re:born," with what sounds like an electric guitar line, continues the mood of the album appropriately. Rick's flow is Nas-like in that it sounds very conversational and paced, which may give you the impression that there is no word smithing or rhyming happening behind the curtains. But to assume that would be a disservice to yourself as a listener and Rick as an emcee. On that note, can I just say how much I loved having the lyrics for every track included on the download of the project. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to make out the words of someone you know isn't big enough for a google search to bring up their rhymes. Other artists, take note.
The 80's synth beat of "him alone" is mildly contagious and while the message is an over produced one in the scene it doesn't make it any less true and needed. Still, like an average episode of your favorite TV show, you don't think much about it after it's over. I dig the smoky piano atmosphere of "on this road" but cannot get over that the Annelsie Meywes- featured chorus smacks the same sonic vein of Skylar Gray's chorus off Lupe's 'Words I Never Said.' Rick spits his sneaker head anthem in "i'm on it," with guest bars from B. Holy, to decent ear appeal, but overstays its welcome with an unspectacular hook. But, like meeting an artist in person, the down to earth personality of Rick seen in that track helps the stock value of the rest of the project. The same can be said for "beautiful," an ode to the females in Rick's life. Normally, songs of this type set off the contrived alarm on the radio speakers, but the fact that 1) the beat is smooth, just a degree different and never manipulative and 2) he addresses specific women in his life and compliments them on specifics aspects of their varied beauty, boosts it. Other artists, again, take note that you can communicate a message to the masses by speaking to an individual. Rick does this well. Rounding out the album, "loved+lost" is a winner. Just like the strongest tracks on the project, it hits the perfect thematic keys in a way that avoids being cliched because we're getting to know our host. Big Nick's faux-crooning on the hook makes the whole thing float longer than it would have without it on the choppy seas of lyrically peeling back band-aids.
This metaphor may only be relatable to half of the reading audience, but Yung Rick's "love+life" LP reminds me of a favorite movie on a VHS tape. You push an indestructible block that you probably don't even realize is plastic into the VCR, hope the screen doesn't become fuzzy and enjoy the show. You don't notice the medium to low picture quality or the shaky merit of the audio because your enjoyment of the show goes farther than the gloss of a laser-cut image display. That's where I'm at with "love+life." Production ranges from accommodating to enjoyable, usually never higher, and some concepts fail to impress you with their depth at times. Yet, beneath the forgiveable indie quality is a glint that my eye caught on every listen. Closer inspections reveal the glint to be intangible artistic insight that may not even be done strategically because of its second nature to the emcee. If I was a label exec looking for the next big thing that the mainstream doesn't know they want yet, that sparkle would intrigue me enough to hear more of what Yung Rick is about and the length that his skills are capable of carrying him. I look forward to following the continuing evolution of the emcee who correctly sees life and love as interlocking as the metal mouthpiece of his microphone.
Categorical Ratings Breakdown:
Beat Selection/Production: 3/5
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