Review by I.S. Jones @isjonespoetry
Bed-Stuy’s very own Radhames Rodriguez, a.k.a. Radamiz, after a much anticipated four year wait, comes to us with his first full-length album Writeous. From TeamBackPack, Vibe, and USA Today, Radamiz was already gaining serious media attention long before Writeous was even close to the end of its production. From the cover art alone, a jarring sketch of a baby holding a gun to its mouth with the use of its feet, Radamiz has shaped a body of art which is startling in its presentation but wholly his experience that we allowed access to.
I am not a New York native, and it is critical for me to say this because in the year I have been an active participant and observer of New York’s indie hip-hop scene, a lot of rappers work in solitary. It’s to the point that this pride in working alone often creates distrust and unhealthy rivalry among others. Here enters The Mogul Club, a collective which has largely shaped both the artist’s sound therefore standing a testament to the power and necessity of camaraderie in this genre. You just cannot do it alone, and it is a miracle that Radamiz has been able to surround himself with like-minded and equally talented MC’s such as King Critical and I.O.D.
It is as the artist stated on Facebook: “I don't make no fucking boom-bap. Because I'm from New York doesn't mean I make boom bap or trap. There are other choices. I chose otherwise”. For this reason, Radamiz is the rapper I have waiting on for a very long time. He creates difficult, poignant bars which requires a listener to engage his work again and again thus insuring his music will have a long life cycle. This was made clear on his singles “God Talks to Me A Lot” as well as “Ali’s My Big Brother”. This is especially made clear for me in the second track “Sumner” in which the rapper speaks about his life in poverty when he lived in Bed-Stuy’s Sumner Houses.
As someone who is still learning about the culture of New York and who did not grow up financially disadvantage, Radamiz is successful in both entertaining his listeners as well as educating. For this reason, along with the rapper’s careful syncopation and attention to detail, Radamiz drops gem after gem in this project. So one could imagine my immense disappointment when my favorite track on the album is the also the most problematic. In "New York Don't Love Me", he states: “your androgynous crew / can't tell if you get bitches or just [are] bitches”. It’s disappointing because Radamiz is far too talented and too smart to be making such cheap jabs at someone’s sexual presentation.
Writeous is the kind of album you can bump on the subway or morning commute, but the truth is to really absorb this project, you need to be laying down, eyes closed to unpack its entire landscape. Sonically, the production album is clean, displaying a level of studio quality many premiere albums don't possess. While the album shows a graceful growth, I struggle to place myself in the songs. I struggle to find parts of the album in which I can claim as my own. Radamiz had made a great body of work, but it feels closed off for the most except to artist himself. However it is his first, and even from the interviews I’ve had with him, I see an artist who is very aware of his growth, and that if you know better you won’t sleep on him.
Final Rating: 4.25/5