Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Richmond, VA veteran rappers Flip Barrison and Biggie Deaf are no strangers to the limelight. Only a month ago, they performed live with Ludacris and teased songs from their soon to be released collaborative album. See their performance in Doswell, VA below.
And now we have it, in Lyrically Ratchet Vol. 1. The album is an amalgam of diverse sounds, flows, and themes laid out across nine tracks (and a remix).
As a listener, I tend to pride myself on the ability to tell where an artist is from based on the sound, flow, pitch and tempo of the music itself, but for Lyrically Ratchet, I found myself scratching my head, and I mean that in the best way. The songs range from different styles and eras with each track.
The intro song Bagg on Back, has a slower, Houston-reminiscent vibe, that eases you into the project with a “Let’s get to work” theme. If DJs pick this song to chop and screw, I wouldn’t blame them.
Rollin’, rolls the clock back for a ‘90s G-Funk inspired song, with a soaring melodic hook that would make the late great Nate Dogg smile. The use of keys and xylophone really make this track stand out to me.
Nothing New continues the theme of prospering by minding your own business, with a steady hook of “Niggas always hatin’ but that’s nothing new...gettin’ paid to pay the bills, that ain’t nothin’ new.” A gentle flute guides the song along to its short but melodic outro, a decent closer.
Next is Cashed Out, which snaps us back into modern hip hop, with a short but effective autotune hook and a bouncing bass that will definitely make the song stand out to first time listeners, which could be why the remix with Knucklez was added at the end of the project.
The Cycle 2 has the dynamic of a ‘90s era posse cut, an old school boom-bap backbeat complemented with modern warbling synth riffs, topped off with hard-hitting lyrics from start to finish. The song is about being trapped in a cycle of poverty and murder, mentions of a mother robbing and killing a pimp just to escape him. As Biggie Deaf starts with the hook, “They say we stuck in the cycle, we live our lives in sin, they stuck to the bible.” Any number of new verses could be added in a remix and the song would still pack a vicious punch.
If Its Real comes quick after, contrasting the intensity of the last song with a joyful disbelief of the ways we are blessed. A healthy inspiration from Bone Thugs N Harmony can be felt through the subject matter and melody, while still being very original and unique in its own right. "Woke up in the mornin' gotta thank God, yesterday they just reduced the hours on my job." as Flip says (we can almost feel him smiling through the mic as he recorded it).
By My Side brings back the G-Funk sound for a soothing, love song with slow guitar and keys propelling the sung hook and wooing lyrics even farther. If you're making a playlist for that special someone, By My Side gets the message across without being too bold.
Hunnid Grand keeps the melodic hook, but ditches the gentleness. The song highlights how deadly the pursuit of money can be, and asks how Black lives matter if there is still blood splatter. Dark and unflinching, the song leaves you questioning whether a hundred grand is worth your life or freedom.
Roses closes the door on the project, the metaphor of blooming is used throughout the song to represent personal growth, the subjective nature of beauty, and the catharsis that Lyrically Ratchet has been building towards. Another boom-bap beat with synths that give a sense of scale and size to the spoken words of both emcees. A line in the first verse gives away the theme of the song and honestly, something the entire album had been speaking on, "I'm glad I know my worth, that's why I'm not on a constant search." The suffering caused by the need to be a provider, the free-for-all fight to make ends meet in a world that neglects your needs, trying to find comfort and solace in that same madness, and finally making peace with who you are meant to be. I predict a potential Lyrically Ratchet Vol. 2 to ask the question, what is left to do when you understand your worth?
Buy and Stream Lyrically Ratchet Vol. 1 here, and on all platforms
Follow Flip Barrison on all socials: @thatrealfdot
Follow Biggie Deaf on all socials: @biggie_deaf
Written by Max Olarinde, @mobeige1 on all socials