Biggie: “I thought I was the illest…”

I struggle to think of any other MC who gives me goose bumps like R.A. The Rugged Man. I don’t care if you don’t read any of my articles ever again but I beg you (I’m actually on my knees right now) to take ONE minute reading this and be prepared for it to change your perception of hip-hop forever. I had to drop this feature because I’m sick of people sleeping on such an unbelievable talent and someone who deserves success more than any other artist out there.

Think of R.A. as possessing the lyrical ability of Pun, L and G Rap combined; the street respect of Krs One; the mental disposition of Ol’ Dirty Bastard and the skin tone of Eminem. Yeah, R.A.’s white.

Now before you think: “Oh yeah, another new industry cat who the media are claiming is the new saviour of hip-hop.” Think again. R.A. has been in the game since the early nineties. He was being derogatory to women and taking jabs at himself long before Dr. Dre found a certain Mr. Mathers’ demo tape on Jimmy Iovine’s garage floor. R.A. signed to Jive at 18 before being infamously dropped after they wanted him to make a record like Biggie’s Juicy. As Jive had already lined Biggie up for a guest spot the duo decided to make the most of the studio time and Cunt Renaissance was born. It is the filthiest, un-radio friendly joint I have ever heard. However, the track which got Rugged the respect amongst his peers he so rightly deserved was Every Record Label Sucks Dick; this time R.A. went directly at the label themselves. After their work together Biggie himself was famously quoted when referring to R.A.:“I thought I was the illest”.

R.A. then decided that going independent was the best way forward for his career and in 2004 dropped Die Rugged Man, Die. Five more years of an almost unheard R.A. and Legendary Classics Volume 1 drops: a collection of R.A.’s unreleased and best tracks. Not in a record store near you, but R.A. fans know where they can get their hands on this rare treat.

It would not be an exaggeration, and you will realise what I mean when you listen, to say that R.A. takes Kool G Rap’s multi-syllabic rhyme scheme and not necessarily perfects it, but takes it to a new level. Sometimes I listen to his tracks and I think: “How is that even possible?!” But R.A. can switch his style up so effortlessly too. Uncommon Valor with JMT is a perfect example of this; you are drawn into his touching account of his experiences with Agent Orange before his style just switches up entirely and you have to rewind several times to get the gist of his complex multis.

Enough bulk writing, it’s time for me to ship you over some tracks. Some are from his LCV1 but one is a feature and the two I referred to earlier can also be found on his very first LP (under the alias of Crustified Dibbs) Night of the Bloody Apes (1994).

R.A. The Rugged Man (feat Notorious B.I.G.) – Cunt Renaissance

As stated earlier, this joint is pure filth and you won’t listen to it often but it is hip-hop history and should be in your collection. R.A. murders Big on this track.

R.A. The Rugged Man – Every Record Label Sucks Dick

Krs One told R.A. that the hip-hop world loved this effort. It was something no-one had ever dared to put down on wax and to go at record labels who had so much power, even back then, was unheard of.

Jedi Mind Tricks (feat R.A. The Rugged Man) – Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story

Vinnie Paz lays down a nice intro but skip to 1:30 for R.A.’s verse. Possibly his greatest and most powerful account yet. Awarded Quotable of the Month in The Source Magazine.

R.A. The Rugged Man – Lessons

Off Die Rugged Man, Die. Won’t blow your mind like the others but R.A. spits the truth about the state of the industry in 2004. Slows his flow down to get the message across.

R.A. The Rugged Man (feat Kool G Rap & Big John) – Three Kings

G Rap doesn’t really even turn up which is a shame (afterall, he has proved his credentials). R.A. kills everyone in the booth (and Big John goes in heavy).

R.A. The Rugged Man (feat Hell Razah, Tragedy Khadafi & Timbo King) – Renaissance 2.0

Heavy features on this joint with some serious muscle behind the mic. R.A. comes in last and kills everyone within a 5 mile radius.

R.A. The Rugged Man – Supa

Nice solid beat on this one. Tears it apart and switches flow up immaculately. Great to have him on this track solo.

R.A. will never be on MTV. Floyd Mayweather in his recent interview with Rugged (R.A. is a MASSIVE boxing fan and has just inked a deal to co-author a book on the sport) didn’t even know who he was. However, it is MC’s like R.A. who fill us underground heads with joy that not all artists sell out in search of that illusive fame. R.A. certainly had that opportunity and I wouldn’t imagine he’s thinking of changing things very soon either.

Support your underground scene and cop Legendary Classics Volume 1 here.

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3 comments to Biggie: “I thought I was the illest…”

  • Chris

    RA is awesome! I love that track with JMT, his verse is unbelievable. He played in the croft in Bristol last year but I didn’t have any cash to go and see hi. Nicked one of the posters though

  • Murray

    Yep, he really is the definition of underrated. What interests me so much in him is how he is so unique from everything else out there (even Em). He holds himself down, does what he wants to do and stays true to his music. That’s all you can ask from an MC really. And R.I.P. to his father who passed a few days back.


  • I fuck with RA, but it bothers me when people use that Biggie “quote” to pump up RA’s rep, when Biggie was quoted saying he thought RA, as an artist, was a “2… might be a 3″ out of 10, and that he only did the song because he was paid a lot of money.

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