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Album Review: Rittz 'White Jesus: Revival'

"When you look like he does, and rap like he does, you’ll never be able to simply blend into the hip-hop crowd."

There are one-hundred reasons why Rittz won’t become a successful rapper—let’s go ahead and name a few. For starters, he’s white, which always invites suspicion. And to make matters worse, he’s Southern and white (ooh, tough combo). And he’s not just Southern and white, he’s Southern and white and has a name that’s synonymous with “cracker” and has enormous red hair (really Rittz, you had to grow the hair out too?). As if that didn’t drop his odds of blowing up to damn near zero, he’s also just only months removed from working full-time as a short order cook, is violently allergic to auto-tuned club anthems, and may have a rack, but certainly doesn’t possess enough racks to necessitate stacking them rack on rack on rack. 

Sweet baby Jesus, what kind of self-respecting major label A&R would sign that man? 

There is one reason to believe the man has a real chance though, and thankfully it’s the most important reason: he makes really f**king good music. And while he’d never make it past the casting calls for Making the Band, his refusal to be anything other than himself and willingness to be almost kamikaze-level honest has earned him the devotion of some serious fans who, like Rittz, may not have always found themselves sitting at the cool kid’s table. In fact, the more that I think about it, Rittz’ new album, White Jesus: Revival, is essentially one giant mother**king reason why the man will become a successful rapper. 

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There’s no denying Rittz’ flow—like his hair is his defining physical characteristic his weapons-grade precision tongue is his music’s defining characteristic—so we might as well start there. "Bloody Murdah" is, true to its name, an exercise in microphone First 48ing that starts as a menacing buzz and then slowly but surely ratchets up the throttle until no one in earshot is left alive. In some ways, the more burning "Walking on Air" is an even more impressive display of his breath control as he switches up his flow as often as the layered Shane Eli beat, and for extra credit, the man even manages to pull off an Albuquerque-related rhyme. From the guaranteed crowd igniter at a live show High Five to AA-12 caliber Crazy, White Jesus has plenty to offer the hip-hop head looking to crank the volume up and their brain waves down. 

But where Rittz confounds the stereotype of the fast rapper—all speed, no substance—is tracks like Sleep At Night. While most rappers are too busy rhyming about their dicks to even mention that they have a heart, Rittz dives head first into the pain of a relationship he poured everything into and got less than nothing back, complete with some Facebook stalking (now that’s real). Similarly, the eerie and low key So Strange is one of the few tracks to address the stresses and sometimes dehumanizing aspects of chasing, and achieving, fame: “They hit my girlfriend up now they doin too much / they fucking with my personal space.” But by far the most honest cut on Revival is "Wishin," which ultimately tells you everything you need to know about Rittz. Shared pain is one of the most powerful connections people can make, and by truly sharing his pain he reveals that more than money, more than fame, more than women (which, for the record, is all nice) that connection is the reason he makes music. 

Reading back the last few paragraphs makes Rittz sound like a man of extremes, so I feel obligated to point out that the Slumerican knows how to just relax and have a good time too. "Paradise" is the album’s most easily enjoyable effort, thanks in no small part to an addictive hook from Nikkiya, and The Love Above is potent enough to give listeners a contact high.

Yes, it’s true, Rittz can cruise along the middle ground too, but the truth is the middle ground’s essentially useless for him. When you look like he does, and rap like he does, you’ll never be able to simply blend into the hip-hop crowd. So as long as they’re going to stare regardless, Rittz may as well just do whatever the f**k he wants—and that may just be the perfect formula for rap success.  



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