Cash On Delivery, the debut album of Ray Cash.
Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking when I was first introduced to this album – WHO THE HELL IS RAY CASH? Ray Cash, born Raymond Cheeks, is a young rapper from Cleveland, and someone you could call an underground mainstream rapper.
He's signed to Columbia, a major label. He put out his album last summer, had a scorching lead single that featured Scarface – and yet his fanbase could all fit into the same sedan. It's quite a shame, because there is something about this man that makes you want to like him. His main schtick is getting respect. Even though he is not a purist, and does NOT bring it back to the 90's in his rapping – he has the utmost respect for the old school and when rapping was done for a bit more than making some bucks.
So after climbing the ranks in the netherworld of Hip Hop, our young hero got signed and put out his debut Cash on Delivery, to cricket chirps. Honestly, I think the problem here was the fact that he had essentially no marketing. I haven't heard any Ray Cash guest appearances, where people usually get acquainted with a rapper before they buy a solo album. No known mixtapes, he's not the protege of any established rapper, he has no DJ shouting him out. Nothing. He seemingly popped out of nowhere with a finished LP and hoped for the best. I must say, it is a shame, because the album isn't bad at all!
A cry of "to all the killas and the hundred dolla billas" starts the album off on "The Payback". Remember what I said about respect? Ray shows homage to his genre-mates many times on this album, so you'd better get used to it. One thing to note about the young rapper is his crystal clear cadence. Even though he's from the same town as Bone Thugs, there is no change of flow or lightning quick delivery. Every single track is done with the same, relaxed signature flow. "The Payback" is an introduction into the mind of Mr. Cash. Everything that is relevant to his life, everything he sees, everything he breathes. For the Hip Hop fan who requires that every single song is socially-conscious display of poetic abstraction, this will induce frowns.
Please do not be surprised about the subject matter of this album when his name is Ray Cash and his album is called Cash On Delivery. Ray raps about cash, pimping, cars, running from cops, and chillin' in VIP. A pivotal aspect of enjoying an album such as this is to pop it in with an open mind. Some rappers will write to open your mind, others won't. Most Hip Hop purists will denounce rappers like Ray Cash and say he's not worth listening to if he's not a backpacker, but I raise a giant middle-finger to those pathetic, close-minded individuals. While Ray isn't a philosopher of a rapper, he is still an astounding spitter. Sounding extremely natural over the mic, most every track here is an enjoying listen. "Smokin' and Leanin'" and "Fiends Fiends Fiends" are hardly anything innovative, but hey, I didn't press the skip button.
The lead single – "Bumpin' My Music", is a… banger, for a lack of better words. Ray got the legendary Scarface for a cameo and gives us a creative nod to all the artists that he enjoys listening to and is influenced by. Comprised of a simple 3 note synth and drum combo, the beat will definitely have your neck muscles moving your head up and down. Ray Cash and Scarface flow masterfully and name-check most every legend in the rap game. Check these bars:
"Bone and Biggie in the Pioneer as I reminisce
Before that it was "D'evils" took 'em back to '96
I went down to houston for some face, Mary Jane
What a coincidence I'm blowin' Swishers doin the same thing
Six-hundred for some big "O's", 400 Degrees
I'm a ho, Playaz Club – Ice Cube, Master P
And since I'm movin' my yay, know I got UGK –
Ridin' Dirty lookin' for that high life pimp what more can I say?"
My favorite cut on the entire album comes on the humorous "She a G". Everyone knows that I love when a rapper makes a song about love or women, and Ray succeeds in impressing me here. Taking the concept of a "down-ass bitch" to new heights, Ray tells us a tale of how he meets a chick named Kumay, who instantly catches his eye in that she isn't like most girls. Kumay is special in that she's gangsta as fuck, exactly right up Ray's alley.
The song starts out with their meeting and how she makes an immediate impression on him. It segues into how their relationship goes and how it's a beautiful thing. But what's this? No love story ends like a Disney movie, and Ray knows that. Call it a twist ending, but Cash decides this chick is Too "G" for him. Ray Cash is very talented in never sounding too serious, so you laugh with him the whole way. The song is perfectly situated, as his gangsta love comes one song after his pimp anthem "Sex Appeal". Over a beat that is straight Hip Hop (that is the only way I can describe it), Ray delivers my new pimp anthem. This is honestly a guilty pleasure, as this can be accused of being a clone of MTV "pimp" rap, but come on, Ray is just too ill to hate on. If you can't enjoy this, just give up on life. Get over yourself, there's more to life than your high music standards.
But let's not just label Ray as a bubble-gum rapper yet. Beanie Sigel joins him on "Better Way" and it is on songs like these where I see Ray's true potential as an MC. The two street rappers give us gut-wrenching images of the slums of the inner-city. This is major for me because it shows that as a human, Ray has the full right to enjoy himself on these fun songs, but he can never forget his environment and he is a rapper for a reason – to reveal his inner self.
Beanie Sigel, wow, how did I ever hate on this guy? Beans' verse totally inspired me as I listened, there's few material that comes out these days that gets my brain moving like that. The introspection does not stop here. "F*ck Amerikkka" shows a completely furious Ray Cash delivering a testimony against "Amerikkka". The structure is interesting, as Ray is on trial (for unknown charges), and he is allowed to take the stand. While I can't agree with everything said here, it is a fantastic stab in the chest of our nation, by the hands of an angry citizen of the ghetto.
A return to the flossin' balla genre comes in "Dope Game" and "I'm Gettin'". Not much of a difference between the two here, both are clones of the previous commercial tracks, but they just seem a whole lot less inspired. Don't get me wrong, I have been sitting here praising Ray despite making some materialistic cuts, and I still think it's fine that he does and he has the full right – but that doesn't mean he's safe from slipping.
Aside from the songs that I mentioned above, the album's main issue is that he seems to have given up on the rest of the songs. The remaining tracks are not nearly as lively or bumpable as the beginning of the album. "P*ssy A*s N*ggas" is awful. Bun B (who has seemingly been featured on every single album to come out since 2005) can't even save the wreck that this piece of garbage track is. Subject matter? The title should clear that up.
Add some of the least inspired ganster rap verses I've ever heard over a horrifically cliche southern beat, and you begin to understand what the song is like. "The Bomb" holds the distinction of having the worst beat I have ever heard on a rap song. I don't want to discuss the track too much, but I had to get that off my chest. Whoever produced this should be shot, as should Ray for even rapping over it.
But overall, after cutting some of these losses, I still think Cash on Delivery is a victorious debut for Ray Cash. We get a glimpse into the simple yet crazed mind of the young rapper, and are introduced to what he can bring to the table. I see good things in his future, just as long as he keeps his vision clear and doesn't get lazy like he did with some of the songs here. On his good moments, I see a rapper with extreme potential to sell records along with impressing the Hip Hop heads who prefer talent over sales. In conclusion, Cash delivered!
1. Wake Up Cleveland
2. The Payback
3. Bumpin' My Music ft. Scarface
4. Smokin' & Leanin'
5. Fiends, Fiends, Fiends
6. Sex Appeal (Pimp In My Own Mind)
7. She A G
8. Dope Game
9. Better Way- featuring Beanie Sigel
10. F*ck Amerikkka
11. Livin My Life
12. The Bomb ft. Yummy
13. P*ssy A*s N*ggaz ft. Bun B, Pastor Troy
14. Take It How You Want It
15. Here I Stand
16. Bumpin' My Music Remix ft. Pimp C, Project Pat, TI
Peace for now,