You have to hand it to Roddy Ricch – 11 months after the release of LIVE LIFE FAST, a truly disappointing project that had the online chatter turn against him and dub him a one-album wonder, he returned with a couple singles that quickly shifted things back in the other direction. That in turn allowed Feed Tha Streets III, a sequel to his first series of mixtapes that began in 2017, to rack up some numbers. While the tracks on this project don’t reach the same level as smash hits like “The Box” and “Ballin,” at least Ricch taps back into his strengths and gets back to dropping some catchy melodies in his distinctive voice. He’s still far from being the most polished rapper around, detracting from his cause at times, but this is certainly a step back in the right direction.
The opening track “Just Because” is a great way to remind people why they were so drawn to Roddy Ricch in the first place. Over an emotional guitar loop and a trap beat, Ricch slows things down a little bit but still delivers the kind of performance that could only come from him. There’s something about the way he suddenly gets an animated burst of energy and jumps an octave, or when he hesitates for a split second before dropping the next syllable to make sure that it lands – it’s something real and passionate. Even when he throws on an extra syllable at the end of a line that doesn’t rhyme – it’s a tricky tightrope to walk, but this time it sounds intentional where last time it simply sounded lacking in effort. “King Size” brings us briefly back to the world of LIVE LIFE FAST as Ricch switches back to more straightforward raps and can’t quite measure up to the energy of the wild, glitchy beat that he selected, but “Heavier” brings things back with the kind of catchy motif he’s known for. Ricch often lands on a single, earworm of a melodic way to deliver a single word or phrase sometimes, and in this case the word is the title. With some Zaytoven-esque guitar solos and jazzy pianos adding extra colour to the backdrop, Ricch also adds on a heartfelt verse dedicated to close friend Gunna hoping for his release from jail.
The track “Blue Cheese” may be short, but it’s a burst of infectious oddball energy – again, it’s the kind of track that wouldn’t come from any other rapper no matter how quirky they are. The way Ricch delivers phrases on this one has a certain kind of taunting playground energy, repeating words and cutting them off quickly – plus, the “hoo hoo” ad-lib is an all-timer. Speaking of other rap oddballs, “Aston Martin Truck” sounds a little bit like a Lil Uzi Vert track with its cartoonish synth hook, giving Ricch all the space that he needs to drop a bubbly melody and have a lot of fun. His humour is underrated at times, and it certainly comes out here – talking about how he hates one luxury car over the other for incidental reasons, or overexplaining stealing an opponent’s girl. “Favor For A Favor” sees Ricch with a pretty disjointed flow, but every so often the bass hits and helps bring it all together – it’s a track that’s threatening to fall apart at the seams, but Ricch’s charisma impressively stitches it up as well, switching things up enough to keep it interesting and dropping the kind of bars you wonder how other rappers didn’t come up with first, like “I can always depend on you pushing me to the deep end.” Single “Twin” appears before the halfway mark as well, and it feels like Ricch is trying poorly to emulate a Drake song – again, diverting from his strengths. Lil Durk drops an average feature, and Ricch drops a line about Kanye West’s relationship that probably should have been changed in light of recent headlines.
Part of the reason LIVE LIFE FAST seemed pretty dead on arrival is because Ricch often proves that he’s anything but a generic rapper, something that becomes all the more evident when the back half is kicked off by the largely inconsequential “Get Swept” leading into a track like “Belly of the Beast.” Roddy Ricch is the kind of artist who can say things that nobody else says and still make it an anthem, and he proves it on this track with some truly unique boasts – it’s the same kind of energy that made “The Box” so refreshing. With Ricch up in the sweet spot of his range for the entire track, he navigates around some heavy-duty bass hits and some calming, dreamy guitar parts in the back. “Stop Breathing” is a short but fun diversion where he tries out some different flows over a pitched-up vocal sample, but it easily could have been longer, while “Fade Away” finds Ricch getting a little romantic. It’s another lower-key cut that doesn’t hit as hard as some of the others in the same vein on the album, but it’s a nice breather to hear him get starry-eyed over a partner before he immediately lets Ty Dolla $ign in the door on the next track. “#1 Freak” gets X-rated, but it’s a pretty undeniable groove if you can stomach it. Ty$ brings the spellbinding vocals as always.
The album essentially winds down with one more track in each of the three modes that Ricch typically operates in, for better or for worse. “Pressure” is another short track at the end of Ricch just doing what he does best, drawing out notes in that oddly compelling nasal tone and dropping the kind of lines that just bring a smile to your face in their childlike glee – I’m glad to know that Ricch lives in an igloo, while his partner lives in a glacier. “No Rest” finds Ricch sounding more energetic than usual on a track that’s mostly devoid of melody, which is a nice burst of energy at the end but still leaves me feeling like there’s something a little lacking knowing what he can do, before “Letter To My Son” concludes the proceedings on a heartfelt note. There’s not much to note on musically, but Ricch promising to be there for his 2-year-old son is a nice final stamp.
Now that we’ve received two Roddy Ricch projects in a short time, the latter seeing him rediscovering a couple things about what works, I’d love to see him take a bit more of a break and come back with the kind of album that has the same impact as the bomb that was Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial. It’s always easy to forget just how young most of these hip-hop stars are, and at 24, he hopefully still has a long road ahead of him.
Favourite Tracks: Aston Martin Truck, Belly of the Beast, Blue Cheese, Just Because
Least Favourite Track: Twin