Rittz - The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant

Posted 3 years ago

Rittz, the Slumerican-affiliated DJBooth favorite who delivered White Jesus, and later his Revival, has released his Strange Music debut, The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant.

The album comes locked and loaded with 16 tracks in total, including lead single "For Real" and Booth-approved selections "Switch Lanes" and "Like I Am." Joining the Atlanta emcee on his latest musical journey are Big K.R.I.T., Krizz Kaliko, Mike Posner, Suga Free, Tech N9ne and Yelawolf, while notable production credits belong to DJ Burn One, Lifted, M. Stacks and Track Bangas.

The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant Album Review

When you’re in high school, your horizon often only extends as far as your beat up, hand me down, used car will drive; and that’s if you’re lucky enough to have a beat up car. The people you know might as well be the only people that exist in the world, so if you don’t quite fit the mold, it’s easy to feel like an outsider in your own town. Maybe your athletic skills don’t extend past Frisbee golf in a city obsessed with football, maybe you’re forced to shop with food stamps in a school teeming with spoiled rich kids, or maybe, hypothetically speaking, you’re a white, aspiring rapper with giant red hair in a….well, pretty much anywhere. If it feels like you’re an outcast, that’s because you probably are.

But then something happens. You grow up. You travel. You break beyond those boundaries that once seemed so absolute, and as you do, you discover there are more people like you than you had ever imagined. Maybe not exactly like you, you’re pretty much guaranteed to always be the only white rapper with giant red hair, but fellow outcasts. People who know what it feels like to take a different path, and suffer the stings of that different path. In fact, you start to realize that the people who always made you feel bad for failing to live up to the perfection they projected, are just as imperfect as you.

It’s tempting to write that these last three years are the story of Rittz moving from outsider to insider status, but the truth is that his rise is the product of embracing his outsider status. In many ways that makes Strange Music, a label whose success stems from finding unity by embracing difference, the perfect home for the man they call White Jesus, and explains why his new album, The Life And Times Of Jonny Valiant, is so thoroughly, if I can coin a term, unapologetically Rittzian.

It’s no accident that the first four tracks of Jonny Valiant are as much manifestos as songs. Intro is about as fearlessly honest of a song as you’re going to get; plus Rittz brings back the random Japanese lady from White Jesus’ intro. Longtime fans know what I’m talking about. Similarly, My Interview not only answers every question you’d have about him, but every question he’s ever been asked, while if Like I Am is the first Rittz song you ever heard, you’d still understand exactly who he is. And just in case there was still any confusion about the man’s proclivities, the rapid-fire F**k Swag closes out the album’s opening.

It has to be acknowledged that Johnny Valiant does make at least one attempt at sitting at the cool kids table with the requisite “song for the ladies”, Switch Lanes. I’ve written far too much about Mike Posner to pretend to enjoy the man’s musical stylings now, but that doesn’t mean I’m mad. For what it aims to be it works, but this isn’t what makes Rittz stand out. Amen, on the other hand, now there’s a song literally no one else could make, and the same goes for Sober. How many other people who have used their label debut album to bring on legendary Bay Area rapper Suga Free for a track that sounds like some old school Blackstreet or Jodeci, only with more cocaine and homemade porn? That was a rhetorical question. No one.

While a close listen to Jonny Valiant reveals a far more subtle and intricate emcee than it might first appear, there are always going to be people who remain immune to subtlety. Those are the people you have to smack over the head to earn their respect, and Rittz has some smack-worthy material for them as well. Say No More becomes a new school Strange Music classic by bringing on Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko for some seriously high caliber microphone work, and For Real can’t truly be appreciated unless played at window rattling volumes. You may not love him, but there’s just no way you can claim to love rap and not at least respect Rittz’ skills after listening to Valiant.

Will The Life And Times Of Jonny Valiant be the album that blows Rittz a superstar? No. But the last thing hip-hop needs is another superstar. Hip-hop needs someone every outsider can relate to, someone who remains dedicated to being himself (and sounds damn good in the process). If Rittz can continue to do that, and Jonny Valiant suggests he can, he’ll attract more fans than any poser possibly could. The secret is that the outsiders outnumber the insiders, we’re just waiting for an artist to build something large enough to hold us all.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

Comments
Written by
Posted 3 years ago
Get The PLUG app by DJBooth and get the best hip-hop writing and news delivered daily.

Sample Text - Sample Link
0:00
3:00
Shrink
Hide

More from Rittz

Featured Video

Hip Hop News

Drake’s “Please Forgive Me” Short Film is Problematic

The film further blurs the lines between Drake's homage or exploitation of reggae, dancehall and Afrobeat. Read More
Posted 4 hours ago by Tara Mahadevan

Isaiah Rashad Forced to Tweak “The Sun’s Tirade” Due to Sample Clearance Issue

Sometimes you cannot recreate the soul or an original sample. Read More
Posted 4 hours ago by DJ Z

Kid Cudi’s New Album Includes Two Guest Appearances by André 3000

Also making appearances are Pharrell Williams, Travis Scott and Willow Smith. Read More
Posted 7 hours ago by DJ Z

Albums Are Dying a Slow Death at the Hands of Prospering Playlists

The album has been dying for years, but playlists are on a tremendous rise. Read More
Posted 8 hours ago by Yoh

Chance The Rapper Secured #MCD All-Star Line-Up Through “Personal Conversations”

Magnificent Coloring Day is another example of the power of establishing relationships. Read More
Posted 9 hours ago by Tara Mahadevan

Forget The Numbers, Mac Miller’s “The Divine Feminine” isn’t a Disappointment

If it wasn't for the charting anomaly that is Drake, Miller would have notched his second No. 1 album. Read More
Posted 10 hours ago by DJ Z

TRENDING NOW



Flame

TOP 20 MUSIC CHARTS


Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.