Roddy Ricch ends an impressive year with an equally impressive debut album, filled with melodic flares and modern sensibilities.
As Roddy Ricch’s recent Breakfast Club Interview comes to a close, both DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God bid him farewell and offer a final mention of his new album that’s "out now." The rapper quickly interjects: "What y’all think about the transitions?"
For the first time during the length of the 30-minute interview, with one minute to spare, a sly smirk stretches across Roddy’s face, and he looks genuinely happy. His voice is instantly less monotone and more engaged, audibly increasing in level. He’s invested in their answers, as he leans in to properly gauge the temperature. Their responses prove to be mild and mediocre. Yet, it’s telling that Roddy asks this, that this is what proves to be the most exciting and engaging part of his interview-- and it’s a question he himself had to ask.
The transitions on Please Excuse Me for Being Anti-Social are among the small details that help Roddy create a cohesive and fantastic debut album. The album is neither reaching for streaming number with a lengthy tracklist, nor is it verging on EP territory. Leading up to its release, Roddy has been slowly but surely ascending upon the rap game. He prepared the foundation to be our next It-rapper in 2018, with the viral hit “Die Young,” and a collaboration with Marshmello “Project Dreams” helping his popularity reach its peak. In 2019, his profile continued to climb thanks to placement on Nipsey Hussle’s “Racks in the Middle.”
Singles like “Start Wit Me” and “Big Stepper,” which were released ahead of the debut album, sound even better within the context of the tracklist-- and, dare I say, it’s all about the transitions. The rapper clearly has an ear for beats just as much as he has a knack for the melodies he places atop them. Each production on the album seamlessly bleeds into the next, and there is a distinct, overall vibe carried through all sixteen songs. Roddy’s sound is hard to identify regionally; it’s often said that the rapper would not sound out of place in Atlanta, yet he’s Compton born and raised. Despite being unable to pinpoint him to a specific territory, he has a very unique sound; and it pervaded both Feed the Streets projects, although it’s in its most evolved and elaborate form on Please Excuse Me. He’s gritty yet melodic, his vocals often have a slightly pitched, boyish quality to them that adds to the texture of the record, and the production works similarly. The entire album is anchored by something melodic -- whether it’s the flute, the piano, the guitar licks, or Roddy’s own vocal ad-libs, these are all recurring elements that help create a blanket feeling across Please Excuse Me.
This is perhaps best showcased on album stand-out “The Box.” The beat is built up masterfully by Dat Boi Squeeze and 30 Roc, commencing with the constant refrain of Roddy's own creaking ad-lib. While this could be messy in anyone else's hands, here, it works perfectly creating something overtly unique. The ad-lib grounds the song before it's littered with hi-hats and distant-yet-looming strings, and it ends on a similar note before veering off into cloudy territory and singling out the strings element, which ushers us immediately into “Big Stepper.” Case-in-point: the transition. Where we ended with strings, we pick back up with a chiming bell and the high-pitched flute. The transitions on this album walk the fine line between being completely unidentifiable and simply being smooth-- in the sense that, it’s always very clear when the current song ends and when a new song begins. The tactic here is familiarity, the beginning of one song recalls a sonically similar element of the song prior. This is done in exemplary fashion, once more, as we move from the Lil Durk-featured “Moonwalking,” which ends by highlighting the forlorn guitar, and “Start Wit Me,” which begins with the same, familiar guitar strings.
However, Roddy Ricch’s sense of melody is showcased beyond orchestrating the album's tracklist, as the rapper makes it a point to play around with his flow and cadence, evening giving us succinct one-word melodies with the various ad-libs and “mmm’s” that resound.
Ricch doesn’t stick to one flow, we get to hear him stretch his voice on “Perfect Time,” eliciting a Young Thug-like impression when he attempts to hit a high note for the song's hook. On songs like “Boom Boom Room” and “Roll the Dice” the rapper’s vocals sound even more pitched-up than usual. Elsewhere the rapper elongates his words and purposefully links his words together with dexterity. Roddy dives deeper into straight-on “singing” territory on this album too. The piano ballad closer, “War Baby,” backed by a full choir, finds the rapper taking his most sing-song approach to his delivery, while still keeping it within the confines of his ability.
On Feed the Streets I and II, Roddy remained the only artist on the project. For his debut, Roddy recruits a limited amount of guest features, and while each plays his part diligently, it’s perhaps clear from this review that Roddy remains the star of the album. Still, it’s telling as to those he does enlist: the melodic trapper of our generation, Lil Durk, shows up on the sleek and swooning “Moonwalkin,” fellow melodic disciples like Gunna and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie both appear on respective guitar-driven beats, and his Dreamchasers head honcho Meek Mill shows up for the fun-having banger “Peta.” Our other two collaborators are West Coast mainstays, rounding out the project to help bring things back home: Mustard returns as a collaborator for “High Fashion” and Ty Dolla $ign creeps along with Roddy on “Bacc Seat.”
Please Excuse Me for Being Anti-Social is a promising, and extremely well-organized debut album from the fast-rising West Coast name. Roddy Ricch not only shows growth, he shows investment in his craft and a desire for perfection that will undoubtedly help guide his career to even greater heights.