Since the dawn of time, people have had the opportunity to witness the works of and become inspired by great orators. Demosthenes and Winston Churchill both rallied troops to victory in their darkest hour while Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy called for peaceful solutions to the social inequities that divided a nation. Each of these individuals stared adversity in its cold, cruel eyes and hurdled the obstacles that they’ve encountered in their pursuit of success. The 21st century has given birth to another commanding rhetorician, Jacksonville-born, New Brunswick-bred emcee R.A.W. One.
R.A.W.’s articulate expression and intriguing lyricism are exhibited on his debut LP “The Meal Ticket”. Comprised of 14 tracks, R.A.W. One unleashes an oral assault of epic proportions over a bed of in-house and industry instrumentation. R.A.W.’s expert mastery of verbal communication is the backbone of this collective. His words furnish listeners a view of the world from his prospective. An example of his dexterous penmanship could be witnessed on the melancholic composition “Speechless”. Don’t be fooled by the song’s oxymoronic title for R.A.W. ‘s consistent speech and solid delivery cement the song’s premise; making the impossible possible by any means necessary despite the curves that life throws you. R.A.W. describes his past bouts with the opposite sex by stating: “My girl’s like Babe, show the world what you’re made of/Up until the age of 23 I never made love/All I did was fuck, I aint even take names/Pull my dick out, open your mouth and take aim/I used to be an asshole, but I have to change that/ Karma is a mother fucker and it always came back”. That’s just a small piece from the lyrical pie on this composition. A stuttered hi hat along with a symphonic woodwind sequence add vibrancy to this colorful track. The intensity of R.A.W.’s voice solidifies his acceptance of his wrongs and his thirst to prevail.
The topics on The Meal Ticket don’t stray too far from the norm. There’s the club banger (Scorpio vs. Gemini), the track that depicts the struggle (Cold World), and the preverbal ode to the world’s favorite plant (Mary Jane). However, R.A.W. steps outside of the box and drops a musical autobiography that chronicles his induction into the Hip-Hop world and how other artists (Tupac, Biggie, Jay-Z and Joe Budden to name a few) have influenced him. R.A.W. illustrates his first vocal session and the euphoric feeling he received following his performance by stating: “I hit the booth one time and I lost my mind/Heard my voice and a chill ran up my spine\ I used to be an artist, now I’m an ARTIST/And the only time a draw a picture is in script.” The punch lines are in abundance and connect like a Foreman knockout blow.
One of the most prolific songs on this album would have to be the inspirational “Last Hope”. This coming of age track truly defines perseverance and has R.A.W. depicting his usage of strength, willpower and determination to bring back life and creativity to a dying art form. There are too many one-liners to quote, for this song is fortified with thought-provoking, motivational passages that are sure to spark the creative juices of his peers. Fluid guitar riffs and a prominent snare provide the stimulus for R.A.W.’s literary manipulation. Other standout tracks are the Jay-Z inspired “I Got Your Back” and the empowering “Talk to Em”.
Throughout time the most effective public speakers have been those who used their skill to influence the masses in a positive way. R.A.W. One’s flow, delivery, content and lyrics not only inspire those who listen, but they harness an abundance of raw energy (no pun intended) that emotes realism, consistency and determination. Despite a few production errors, The Meal Ticket is a lyrical classic. Finally, there’s an emcee that concerns himself with the issues that we as a people face daily rather than swag, violence, cars, misogyny and income.