Rome Streetz - Kiss the Ring Music Album Reviews

Rome Streetz - Kiss the Ring Music Album Reviews
The New York City rapper heads upstate for a steely Westside Gunn production with all the hallmarks of a Griselda blockbuster.

Spend enough time with Rome Streetz’s catalog and you’ll find yourself thinking about infrastructure collapse. A 36-year-old rapper raised in eastern Queens, he’s the best bar-for-bar rhymer to come out of New York City in a half-decade; a resident of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood immortalized by the Notorious B.I.G. and JAY-Z, he boasts comparable expertise in the narcotics trade. In a more bountiful era, he’d have been a fixture on BET countdowns and Hot 97 drive-time blocks, back when their frequencies were beamed into every set-top box and Ford Explorer in the tri-state. Now? He delivers polished albums and white-knuckled mixtapes enjoyed by small audiences, fingers crossed that one of his breakneck sixteens will go viral.

Fortunately he’s secured a benefactor in Westside Gunn, the executive producer and “curator” of Streetz’s Griselda debut, Kiss the Ring. Where Streetz’s projects usually spotlight individual collaborators—just in 2021, he released full-lengths with DJ Muggs, Ankhlejohn, Ransom, and Futurewave—Kiss the Ring is a full immersion into Griselda’s murky waters. Gunn’s in-house producers share humble origins: Buffalo natives Daringer and Camoflauge Monk are associates from Griselda’s early days; Conductor Williams and Denny Laflare were plucked from internet obscurity. By now, they’re an assembly line engineering claustrophobic samples heedless of key signatures and equalizer settings. On “In Too Deep” and “Soulja Boy,” Conductor’s compressed loops veer offkey. It’s a steely, found-elements approach, but the effect is rather maddening—each bar sounds like it might go somewhere interesting until the inevitable reset.

By ratcheting up the difficulty levels, the producers enjoin Streetz to flex his considerable muscle. The man can rap over anything. On “Heart on Froze,” Streetz unleashes an avalanche of blistering couplets over a snare’s drumroll, his verses lending framework to the distorted bassline. “Ugly Balenciaga’s” is positively avant-garde, a tepid soup of vocal bites and squawking saxophone. In contrast, Streetz is composure personified, his impeccably patterned rhymes (“Made a nice profit pushing paraphernelia/Switched, now it’s only audio dope that I’ll sell ya/Fuck the police, never friendly with those that jail ya/Tryin’ to fuck with me results in failure”) belying a pugnacious bite.

A preternatural technician from the school of Big L and Big Pun, Streetz’s flow sheathes painstaking rhyme schemes, his inflection bestowing an off-kilter chattiness. While he favors an instinctive, punchline-centric writing style, he’s a formalist at ease with multisyllabic patterns and melodic hooks. His sensibility is best suited to Kiss the Ring’s sturdier arrangements. While the somber themes of “Long Story Short” ring familiar, the third-person narrative allows for pithy asides (“They flipped his residence, found a phone and overwhelming evidence/Karma’s a bitch, a kiss, a blessing, or it’s venomous”). The standout “Tyson Beckford” recalls Muggs’ work on Streetz’s 2021 opus Death & the Magician, sparse percussion accentuating the animated chorus and wordplay.

Kiss the Ring bears all the hallmarks of a Griselda blockbuster: dissonant instrumentals, abstract interludes, wacky ad-libs and beat tags, songs named after B-list celebrities. Like Diddy and Master P before him, Westside Gunn is a networker and financier with a knack for corralling talent. When he imparts his vision on established artists, the results can be hit-or-miss. Mach-Hommy’s vibrant Pray for Haiti bore a similar conceit to Kiss the Ring, a decorated genre master tiptoeing into Griselda’s house of mirrors, and the producers and guests reflected Mach’s idiosyncrasies back at him. By comparison, Streetz is a dour raconteur and a less mercurial presence—all of which contributed to the eerie tension of Death & the Magician. Kiss the Ring is most reminiscent of Gunn’s own freewheeling mixtapes, but the routine is a bit paint-by-numbers given Streetz’s subtler acrobatics.

The Armani Caesar duet “Armed & Dangerous,” a crass Bonnie-and-Clyde dialogue formatted like an early-2000s thug-love ballad, feels like a missed opportunity. The G-Unit era is as ripe for homage as any, but even G-Unit could poke fun at their hokey crossovers, whereas Streetz and Caesar opt to play it straight. There’s ample room for irony between their characters—Streetz as a beats-and-bars purist, Caesar as an underground sex symbol—but to cast them as infatuated lovers beggars belief. A record like Kiss the Ring has zero crossover potential in 2022. Why bother?

This lack of purpose beleaguers the album’s lesser moments, even if Kiss the Ring is one of the best pound-for-pound rap outings of the year. In days past, a rapper like Streetz—a lightning talent from the cradle of hip-hop—would have incited a major-label bidding war. Today, he’s bankrolled by a cult artist and would-be mogul intent on molding stars in his image. It’s like Snoop Dogg signing with No Limit, or Kevin Durant joining the Warriors. Streetz has executed masterworks of his own; he’s never needed a lift.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Rome Streetz - Kiss the Ring Music Album Reviews Rome Streetz - Kiss the Ring Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 14, 2022 Rating: 5


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