Review Summary: rome's streets
One of my favourite verses from Ghostface Killah ends with a fadeout. I swear I remember reading that RZA claimed "Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours (Still Don't Nothing Move but the Money)" ended that way because he wanted to give the listener the impression that Ghost could rap forever. A very RZA thing to claim, if it's not apocryphal, but if any rapper could pull that shit off, I think it'd be '97 Ghost: still able to fully tap into the delirious, feverish potential of his high-energy flow but beginning to puncture his tales with moments of stunning humanity.
This is relevant insofar as my first impression of Rome Streetz, stumbling on KISS THE RING
nearly blind, was 'goddamn this dude could rap forever
'. Streetz has neither Ghostface's high-pitched Bronx whine (he leaves that to Griselda head and album executive producer Westside Gunn) nor quite his storytelling acumen, but the dude rides these excellent beats (CONDUCTOR WE HAVE A PROBLEM) in a way that makes you wonder if the producers have to convince him to stop out of concern the track will run too long. This makes for a beautiful simpatico with the composition of KISS THE RING
, which favours the lean, industrial-tinged beats Griselda has become known for, and burns through 17 tracks in a reasonably clean 50 minutes.
No-one familiar with Griselda will be blindsided by the content of this album, though Streetz' head-spinning rhymes spin it a way that pleasantly diverts his sound from labelmates Conway the Machine (a lyrical titan with a patient, textured voice), Benny the Butcher (an addictive feature rapper who can get exhausting over a full album runtime) and Boldy James (a deep-voiced street poet who drops enough albums to make the rest of the label seem lazy) - all, naturally, featured on KISS THE RING
, but not a single one overshadowing the title rapper. One imagines that breaking into Griselda now that their sound and position in the game are so well-established is no easy task; Rome Streetz makes it look effortless, whether he's making braggadocio feel fresh again on "Fashion Rebel" or telling two tragic intertwined stories with near-minimalist construction on "Long Story Short". There's plenty to entice almost anybody a little tired with hip-hop at the moment on KISS THE RING
, and if Streetz plans on releasing music with anything like the regularity of the rest of Griselda, our summers are in good hands for the foreseeable future.