Music

Roddy Rich Struggles With Survivor’s Guilt On The Brilliant ‘Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial’

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A growing wealth of studies has recently begun to suggest that many Black men from lower-income neighborhoods may have undiagnosed, untreated PTSD. On Roddy Ricch’s brilliant major-label debut, Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial, he all but confirms his own, even going so far as to outright say it in the lyrics on the album’s chilling closer, “War Baby.”

Throughout the project’s 16 songs, Roddy — a Compton native who at just 20 years old was hand-picked by Nipsey Hussle to carry the torch for the next wave of LA hip-hop — splashes poignant and harrowing images of trauma, addiction, paranoia, and unlikely, obstinate optimism across hard-hitting canvases provided by up-and-coming beatmakers like 30 Roc, JetsonMade, and Mustard, painting a rags-to-riches picture of a survivor with serious survivor’s guilt.

Establishing himself as a force in hip-hop with 2018’s Feed The Streets II, Roddy popped off both online and in the streets with an unexpected mixture of Los Angeles County street sensibilities and Atlanta traphouse melodizing, like the mutant offspring of a fusion between Tupac and Young Thug — the latter of whom Roddy does an uncanny impression on “The Box” from Antisocial. His singles “Die Young” and “Every Season” drew comparisons to fellow bubbling West Coast crooner 03 Greedo and garnered the attention of stars like Meek Mill and Nipsey Hussle, who took Roddy on tour and put him on the single “Racks In The Middle,” respectively.

The added exposure was enough to justify placement on 2019’s XXL Freshman Cover, as well as a contract at Meek and Nip’s shared label, Atlantic, where the gears of power turned to the work of making Roddy a bonafide superstar. “Racks In The Middle” is now nominated for two 2020 Grammy Awards, while Roddy’s catchy appearance on “Ballin” from Mustard’s Perfect Ten also received recognition — fittingly, for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, a descriptor that also perfectly sums up the majority of the tracks on Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial.

Those collaborations include appearances from the aforementioned Meek Mill and Mustard, as well as additional pop-ins from fellow crooning rappers A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Lil Durk, and Gunna, as well as ratchet soul hook master Ty Dolla Sign. “Start Wit Me” featuring Gunna especially stands out — not only have the two been compared as analogs to more established rap ululators from their respective cities (Roddy to Greedo, Gunna to Thug), but Roddy’s verse dances over the JetsonMade beat with a dazzling clarity rivaling Jetson’s other breakout collaborator, DaBaby.

Roddy’s wordplay is what sets him apart from the seeming glut of singsong rappers, as he fills each verse with colorful imagery delivered in almost cartoonish metaphors. On “Peta” with Meek, Roddy doesn’t mask his threats so much as he does dress them up: “When I was bending the block with the lasers out, they thought it was Christmas,” he riffs. “Up the block and knock his braces out, we caught ’em slippin.” Likewise, on “Tip Toe,” with A Boogie, he turns the traphouse into a drive-thru, “Serving junkies out the window.”

But behind the smirk-inducing punchlines, Roddy barely even tries to conceal the harrowing effects of this lifestyle ravaging his body and mind. References to codeine and Percocet, from the strangled cat yowling on “The Box” that he “Pour up the whole damn seal, I’ma get lazy” to his insistence that the stress has him sipping “Promethazine ’til the morning / Hope I don’t wake up tomorrow” on “War Baby.” If there’s any drawback to Roddy’s ability to bring his memories to vivid HD life in the listener’s imagination, it’s that Juice WRLD, one of hip-hop’s other brightest stars at 21 like Roddy, died just two days after his album’s release. Juice also struggled with addiction for most of his young life.

There is a conversation to be had about the effects of living in the conditions shared by parts of Chicago and Compton, as well as many other parts of the nation where the obscene wealth generated by corporations — including record labels and their business partners — never reaches the Black and brown residents of places often described by both natives and news outlets as “war zones.” Young men like Roddy and Juice have been crying out on records about the stress-inducing conditions for decades, which the corporate machine then passes off as “entertainment.” And yes, Roddy is great at depicting his trauma and it has benefited him, allowing him to become “Ricch” — but it’s clear he’s haunted and coping in self-destructive ways. As he says on “War Baby,” “that ain’t normal, baby.”

Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial is out now via Atlantic. Get it here.

Roddy Ricch is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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