Fat Ray – “Santa Barbara” review

Fat Ray is a 39 year old MC from Detroit, Michigan who came up as a member of the trio B.R. Gunna alongside Black Milk & Young RJ. He would eventually go solo in 2008 by dropping the criminally slept-on The Set Up, but it wouldn’t be until a full decade later when it was followed with both The Lunch Room mixtape & then his sophomore effort Perseus. However out of nowhere, Ray has seen fit to drop his 3rd full-length album.

The title track that kicks the album off talks about being happy to be back on his shit over a jazzy boom bap beat from Raphy, who produced all 3 joints on the entire thing. The next song “Flight Risk / Plead the 5th” gets on the gangsta rap tip over an instrumental, that starts off jazzy, but later switches up into a bare soul sample. The track “Menacing” talks about going to war if you want it over a beat that sounds like something RZA would’ve made for Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) while the cleverly-titled “Ethan Hunt” makes references to the Mission: Impossible franchise over a more chilled out instrumental.

The track “Jordan vs. Bird” gets on his mob shit over a boom bap beat with a dark atmosphere to it while the song “Dopeman Heaven” with Danny Brown finds the 2 talking about slanging drugs over a Black Milk instrumental with some downcast keyboard melodies. The track “Old Faithful” with Bruiser Wolf sees the duo talking about being fresh to death over a sleek beat while the song “Top Ramen” talks about not having much coming up over a psychedelic instrumental.

The track “Bar Smithing / Off-Safety” shows off his lyricism & the beat once again has that vintage Wu-Tang feel at the start, but it switches up into something more apprehensive. “The One” talks about how everyone wants to be that guy over a Crisfantom instrumental that’s clearly inspired by the late J Dilla while the penultimate track “The Sword” talks about being the 2nd level of crazy over an otherworldly beat. The album ends with “Mental Case”, where Ray talks about his homie Kutty over some harmonious vocal melodies.

This dude is a true hometown veteran & Santa Barbara is yet another example of that. Raphy’s production is on point & lyrically, he legitimately does continue to be the hungriest MC in the world.

Score: 3.5/5

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