R.A the Rugged Man is one of those artists that you may not have heard of but who has been omnipresent at the top of the his game for decades. With a AAA list of collaborators that include The Wu-Tang Clan, The Alchemist, Tech N9ne, Talib Kweli, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap and Notorious B.I.G, who famously said in reference to R.A “and I thought I was the illest!”
Take a dive into his back catalogue and you will quickly find yourself hooked into his lyrical flow. R.A’s skills on the mic are undisputable and his lyrics range from funny and sarcastic to deeply angry and profound like on the track ‘Uncommon Valor’ which chronicles his fathers experience in the Vietnam war, whose exposure to Agent Orange left R.A’s brother Maxx physically and visually impaired and his sister Dee Ann unable to walk or speak.
After his albums were shelved by major labels he took things into his own hands, organising independent shows, pressing his own vinyl singles and racking up one of the most impressive resumes in Rap history.
In 2015, R.A ran a freestyle contest on Youtube for young unknown rappers. It was here he came across A-F-R-O, or All Flows Reach Out (Real name James Gutierrez), a then 17 year old bespectacled afro sporting kid from Southern California. R.A took AFRO under his wing and now the two are partners in paying homage to the rap greats and continuing to push the boundaries of the craft.
Under R.A’s mentorship, A-F-R-O is ushering in a new era of excellence for rap traditionalists, spitting sick rhymes over simple beats. No auto-tune, no trap breakdowns and certainly no pop starlets in the chorus. This is old school to its core. AFRO raps so fast sometimes it’s difficult to even keep up and his ability to do this straight off the top of his head is nothing short of mind blowing.
Next month’s show will be a rare opportunity to see these 2 hip hop heavyweights up close and personal in an intimate setting and I for one cannot wait!
The show part of the Beck’s Rhythm Series on Monday November 20th and tickets are available on The Sugar Club website for €20.