Few artists are ever as controversial as they are influential. New York legend R.A. the Rugged Man has lived up to such a moniker by simultaneously inspiring generations of rappers while being banned from every major record label’s offices and even barred from performing during the late-90s underground explosion. But by combining the authenticity of his undeniably rugged life with his undisputed mic skills and understanding of the genre as a Hip Hop historian, his music has both survived and thrived off the strength of bootlegs and word of mouth through high profile collaborations and high quality official releases, setting a standard for “Real MCs” that few have ever attempted to match. Frequent collaborator The Notorious B.I.G. was once quoted in reference to R.A. by stating “And I thought I was the illest.”
In anticipation of his third album, we’ve selected five dope R.A. The Rugged Man videos for you to enjoy. R.A. The Rugged Man is one of our favorite personalities in the Hip Hop game: he is totally authentic and says what he thinks, no matter what other people think about his opinions. Furthermore, when it comes to Hip Hop (and politics…), he knows what he is talking about – his interviews in which he continuously needs to school DJ Vlad are a testament to that.
But R.A. is not just one of our favorite personalities, he is one of our favorite emcees as well. Few, if any emcees can go bar-for-bar with R.A. The Rugged Man. His technical skill, his incredible flow, his breath control, and his bar-building skills are second to none. Due to all kinds of label woes and a strong-minded personality with an unwillingness to compromise, he only released two albums in the over two decades he’s been active in the game – but on those two albums, and on numerous guest appearances on other people’s songs (where he usually bodies everybody else involved), R.A. has consistently shown an unbeatable lyrical ability. Anyone who saw him performing live knows he can rock a crowd too – as a real emcee should be able to.
While we wait for his third album to drop, check out these 5 videos and appreciate one of the most underappreciated Hip Hop artists’ skills.
R.A.’s second album Legends Never Die is one of the best Hip Hop albums released in 2013, and this is one of the best tracks of that album. The track features Australian beatboxer Tom Thum (the track is named after him and he appears in the video) and is a dope example of two of the things R.A. The Rugged Man does best: humorous bragging using some crass imagery while lyrically destroying other rappers.
Too much lyricism to digest, I do it on purpose
Two of my bars is more lyrical than two of your verses, come on
Holla-Loo-Yuh ft. Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko
Another great video for a track of Legends Never Die, this collabo with Strange Music’s Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko is awesome. Tech N9ne is another one of those authentic personalities in Hip Hop, who never sold out and always independently did where his artistry took him. On this song, he does a dope verse, a bit slower-paced than we are used too from Tech N9ne. Krizz Kaliko is unbelievably talented, with a crazy ability to transition between technical rap verses to singing powerful hooks, and the hook is all he does on this particular track. The eery vibe the beat and the video give off is great, and R.A. The Rugged Man’s verse is dope as always.
Yo, it’s a brutal system, assume position
You superstition? Or Jew or Christian?
School religion is a cruel depiction
They can blind your hearing, they can mute your vision
Live in the dirt, burn, slithering earth worm
Leave you like MJ with a hit and a burnt perm
The People's Champ
R.A. The Rugged Man’s first official video off Legends Never Die. “The People’s Champ” is produced by Apathy and features an intro from Rampage. If you never need a song to get hyped up for something, make this your go-to song.
You other rappers I’m obliterating
My flow is the Michelangelo Sistine Chapel
You ain’t even fingerpainting
The Dangerous Three ft. Brother Ali, Masta Ace
Three of Hip Hop’s greatest on one song: what’s not to love? Brother Ali opens proceedings with a great verse and Masta Ace closes the song out, R.A. kills it with the middle verse. Nice Biggie vocal sample on the chorus too.
The same way Big flipped mics I’mma show you how I run things
I’m the Don: Corleone, Cornelius, Trump, King
Definition Of A Rap Flow ft. Amalie Bruun
This song from the Legends Never Die album probably is R.A. The Rugged Man’s most commercially appealing effort, but it’s none the worse for it. An incredible lyrical display, and a dope video too (with some nice cameo’s, Grandmaster Caz first and foremost).
What is it? A blizzard? Is it a limit?
Any crime you could name I committed
I admit it I did it
Lottery, gotta be in it to win it
I’m just a white boy ruining what blacks invented
But I’m the baddest, undefeated
Beat it, believe it, leaving you leaking, losing blood like an anemic
I’m rather conceited
Rappers are comedic, heated, leaving you paraplegic
Bonus Video: Gift of Gab ft. R.A. The Rugged Man & A-F-R-O - Freedom Form Flowing
“Freedom Form Flowing” is a dope track from Blackalicious emcee Gift Of Gab’s 2017 EP Rejoice! Rappers are Rapping Again!. All three emcees on this track kill it, Gift Of Gab is another one of those underappreciated rappers who is better than 99% of the rappers out today and young talent A-F-R-O easily holds his own between veterans Gift Of Gab and R.A. The Rugged Man with a killer verse. “Freedom Form Flowing” is a display of lyricism and wordplay at its finest.
Rakim and Eric B, check out my melody, duckin’ a felony, nothing they tellin’ me
Never forget ’em, I send ’em to heaven, I went independent, position I been in
Again and again and I’m ruling the throne, I’ll never be ending the message and lesson