Emerging from humble beginnings Rick Duff has come a long way. From a self-constructed recording studio in the suburb of Houston, TX, with no vocal booth and using mattress covered walls as way to soundproof his installation Duff has put out an album that sounds like it could've been laid down in some of the legendary recording facilities from around the country. As an up and coming American R&B/Hip-Hop artist influenced by the music of R. Kelly, Usher, and Chris Brown he's forged his own unique styling of sounds for "High Life", his debut album (Osean Entertainment).
"High Life" opens up this seven song collection with a down-tempo chillaxed ballad called "B&B". It's a seductive way to entice listeners and to lead the way to "High Life", which is the title track and single from the album. "High Life (feat. Supreme)" moves the metronome BPS up to a more mid-tempo range. His production team hits the dance floor sweet spot on this number and just as discussed with the subject matter of the song, before you know you're hooked on Rick.
With "I Can" the tempo get cranked lower again, but instead of bringing the mood down it instead allows RD to display some impressive vocalizations. This Houston homie has a confident control of dynamics and a nice tonal colorization that tends to enhance his range. When he shifts gears to "I Got the Juice" there's not really a notable change of tempo as there is in mood. It's the trippiest tune on the "High Life" compilation. It's also the most self contemplating piece of work of the seven songs and where you get an inkling of just who Rick Duff may be.
Whereas "Jump (feat. Yung Banks)" has a subtle start the Duff pumps it up like a boss with an Uzi consonant rat-ta-tat-tat-tat created by the contrasting intensity of his voice. And as with what he repeats in the lyrics, he gets it, "... jumping like a rabbit!" It's by this part of the record I had the image of Rick working hard on stage beneath the hot, hot spotlights, and the dude's not even breaking a sweat. That impression is especially reinforced with "On My Way". He has that rare ability of performing difficult tasks but making them appear all so easy. Maybe it's because, as he explains here, "I ain't tripping ‘cause my homies got my back".
Wrapping up the "High Life" set is "Sexing You Clean". A final swansong where he brings back Yung Banks to share in on the microphone with him and has an abundance of sensuous soul oozing from every pore. Club DJs will be eating this one up, because it's the banger they're always on the eternal search for and play when the crowd is cooling down at the tables around the bought bottles and models so they'll be coaxed back onto the floor to do it all over again. It what keeps the club owner's cash registers singing that sweet cha-ching-cha-ching song they so love, and what gets those fine peeps paid who stand behind their wired rigs playing that funky nighttime music.
Rick Duff recently performed at this year's monster music industry event we all know as SXSW. From what I know, and that's been passed down to me from along the grapevine, is that come this May he'll be a celebrity red carpet guest at the Grace Jones birthday bash hosted by Georgio Armani at this year's Billboard Music Awards After Party in Las Vegas, NV. In such a short time RD has really come a long way and it sounds like he's really enjoying the "High Life" along the way.