Rowdy: Black Royalty 


[No9to5 Music; Oct. 19]

Release show: Sunday, Oct. 27, 6 p.m., Cat’s Cradle

One of the Triangle’s most passionate advocates for hip-hop culture, Rowdy is known for his ability to bring people together with organizations like Blackspace and the Chapel Hill and downtown Durham chapters of Cypher Univercity.

But it’s not just advocacy that Rowdy contributes. He lives up to his name with an explosive stage presence and bars in abundance, which he delivers on his new EP, Black Royalty.

Here we have twenty minutes of smooth Southern-flavored rap music, laid out with conscious lyricism, as Rowdy examines his latest endeavors, insisting on greatness not only on the mic and in the boardroom, but in doing so consistently, on his own terms.

One of the most entertaining aspects of Black Royalty is Rowdy’s flow, which he seems to have crafted into perfection, ditching his usual fiery-breathed delivery and adopting a slick Southern drawl that has always been present in his raps, but not at the forefront.

The flow exudes confidence, and where Rowdy has always been the type to express urgency with his delivery, the reworked routine does a better job at getting his point across and showing off his charming nature. One of the best illustrations of this is the second track, “Unlocking Neo,” where he raps over a simple beat consisting of playful trap drums and a light guitar riff, with a catchy melodic chorus, as he explains, “I’m on another level baby … and ain’t nobody holding me down.”

It’s not an uncommon theme in rap music. A$AP Ferg’s similarly themed single dominated charts a couple years ago, but where Ferg channeled the spirits of the mosh pit, Rowdy hits listeners with some grown-up elegance, as if he’s having a frank and sincere conversation.

However, where songs like “Unlocking Neo” and “Wave(s)” bring a smooth vibe and have heavy replay value, other parts of the album are a bit lacking when it comes to beat selection, especially “Freestyle Friday” and “My Way.”

In both cases, the beats have great intros, but they deflate when the drums come in. With as much work as Rowdy has put into crafting his flow, better production would’ve pushed this project over the edge from good to great, and at such a short run time, the couple tracks that slightly miss the mark are hard to overlook.

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