With his very first album Catharsis, RuudAwakening has managed to create a hip hop style that’s both complex and marketable, deeply emotive and danceable. Haling from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, this breakout artist has the vocal chops and musical complexity to legitimately take hip hop to the next level, and not just in the underground.
What hits first in”Magic,” the opening track of Catharsis, is not a sick beat or a slowly mumbled verse but a soft, echoey melody. The composition and production on this album is something that sticks out again and again, and Ruud made it a point to work with some of the most innovative instrumentalists and producers on the scene right now to help him realize his vision for the album.
Clean trap and hip hop beats anchor all the tracks and that’s a good thing because as soon as he comes on with his vocals, RuudAwakening is off like a shot. Vocally, the album is truly a Catharsis, as it seems like the passionate rapper spends nine tracks expunging his mind and his lungs. His breathless vocal style is done on purpose to add intensity to what is actually a pretty laid back timbre.
This vocal style is one thing that, despite his perfect diction and flow and actually interesting subject matter, poses the potential for RuudAwakening to crack through the that layer separating underground and popular hip hop and mumble rap’s choke hold on the latter. His smooth vocals have the feel of the Xaned-out land of the “‘Lils” that dominates pop hop today but the content of his lyrics and the speed at which he can flow with such a laid back feel makes him anything but typical pop hop.
Covering subjects like sex addiction and the reasons behind it, the struggle to focus on morals and the fact that the oppression of the poor and people of color feeds into all of the above, it’s obvious RuudAwakening is both here to make a point and had a genuine need to let these thoughts go. Add all that to the complex, almost orchestral composition on the tracks and the funky beats that are, in fact, danceable and unequivocally hip hop, it’ll be a travesty if Catharsis doesn’t get at least a few hits. RuudAwakening is a NAS for the new generation and he’s just getting started. Listen up.
Catharsis is out now on Ruffchild Records and can be streamed on Spotify or Purchased on Bandcamp. RuudAwakening has also created specialized merch for this album, so support real hip hop and stop by the Ruffchild label store.