Review: Rich Gang - Does Money Make Good Music? Or Is It Wealth Without Substance?
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”, or better yet, something is rotten on this compilation effort from YMCMB (Young Money Cash Money Billionaires for those of you out of the know). Rich Gang should be a brilliant showcase of talent with few rubs. I mean, when “The Best Rapper Alive” is on your signed to your label (Lil Wayne), it should be ‘smooth sailing’. While this superstar affair has its moments, it also has plenty of flaws. As we all now, the compilation can be a friend or a foe. This one isn’t a complete throwaway, but nor is it the best rap I’ve heard in 2013.
“R.G.” is… well… the jury is still out. In a rather lackadaisical narration, the listener is expected to endure some of the silliest lines, like ever. “Look at life from a Goodyear blimp boy!” or “And money was the motivation / we took the trips and did the flips…” Please! To make things even more off-putting, Mystikal’s rap is one big WTF adrenaline rush. SMH. Making the start of Rich Gang even stranger is a second brief cut that’s sort of an interlude… sorta. Detail and Future make some kind of vocal processing team… that’s an understatement. To Future’s credit, he begins less reliant on the autotune, and then here it comes full throttle. It’d be better if he was still rapping about waking up in new Bugatti though.
After a so-so start, the first ‘full length’ track “Tapout” strikes gold, even if it lacks ‘taste’. Lil Wayne asserts his presence early on the first verse, managing to offend with his explicit sexual rhymes objectifying women (the usual). He does impress when he lifts a UGK line from “International Player’s Anthem”, but still it is bold. Birdman takes the second verse, counting his money (typical), while Nicki Minaj is Wayne’s female equal on her raunchy third verse. So it’s worthwhile, if you can get past the raunch. And it’s a lot of stank to get past…
Follow-up “We Been On” is simple. Money, money, money, bragging, bragging and more bragging. R. Kelly mentions cigars, luxury watches (Audemars), and foreign cars during hook. Birdman finishes it up by further bragging “…take a lifetime to spend money this long…”. Similarly, the verses adhere to the flaunting of great wealth, with Lil Wayne managing to acknowledge the ongoing ‘on-ness’ in his own way: “B***h, it’s Tunechi up in this b***h aka two rubbers / ain’t turning down for nothin’, it’s nothin”. It really should be a deal breaker, but it works and the production is superb.
“Dreams Come True” does bragging a bit more ‘humbly’ and is a slightly better track itself. Ace Hood brags about “…lying on a mil, that’s the truth / spent five thousand dollars on some shoes…” while Mack Maine is anticipating the “…Bentley truck ‘bout to drop, give me two…”. After the chains and the ‘Rollies’ have come an past, Birdman has “…a hundred G’s in a duffle bag stacked.” All he thinks about is money! But the rich continues to thrive on “50 Plates” where Rick Ross is archetypical Rick Ross. “Strip club is where we meet / big booty is how she eats…” Yeah, yeah, yeah, been there, done that. Rick’s had better tracks. “Bigger Than Life” continues on the lofty train, but manages to be more ‘down to earth’, at least as far as quality. Chris Brown is the star, lending his distinct pipes to the hook, a verse, as well as a bridge. Lil Wayne stands out for being a wordsmith: “White girl, black girl, I call that referee…” Geez Lou-weezy!
“100 Favors” definitely doesn’t keep it one hunna, if you catch my drift. I mean Birdman, do you do nothing more than count your money? Kendrick Lamar provides atonement on the third verse (“You was a college student abusing the credit union / the music was way too loud, the tuition was f**kin’ stupid / and me I was runnin’ wild hittin’ licks in my mother’s Buick…”). “Everyday” is just so-so, but definitely better than the biggest puzzle of the album, Detail’s feature, “Burn The House”. I’m still asking myself, why? Why? After burning the house and pretty much derailing the album’s momentum, “Panties on the Side” is good… for a stripper cut. And isn’t it appropriate that French Montana (Mr. “Pop That”) handles the hook. “Angel” isn’t bad, while “Sunshine” is a dud, no questions asked. Limp Bizkit and Flo Rida? That’s a combo that “I don’t like!” Shout out to Chief Keef.
So here’s the deal. Often when I review things I ask myself, will I remember this album a month or better yet a year from now? The answer for this particularly album is "NO, NO, NO!" Add an intensifier to that if you wish. I’m just keeping it one hunna, fo rizzle. I mean I like money too, but cash doesn’t rule my every rap, every song, or every album. Just sayin’.
Favorites: “Tapout”; “We Been On”; “Dreams Come True”; “Bigger Than Life”
Rich Gang⎪ Rich Gang ⎪Cash Money⎪⎪ US Release Date: July 23, 2013
Featured artists include: Ace Hood; Birdman; Busta Rhymes; Chris Brown; Cory Gunz; Detail; Flo Rida; French Montana; Future; Gudda Gudda; Jae Millz; Lil Wayne; Limp Bizkit; Mack Maine; Mystikal; Nicki Minaj; R. Kelly; Rick Ross; Tyga