Since White Jesus, I have been a fan of Rittz.
From his look to his flow, everything was right.
In my mind this guy was so talented that I was more than sure that he would blow. But what label would be right for a guy as unique as Rittz?
It was as if the universe was answering my own personal thought when I heard that Rittz had been signed to Tech N9ne’s Strange Music label.
This leads me to his debut studio album.
The Life And Times Of Jonny Valiant. When I heard the title it didn’t make much since when I heard it. I later assumed it was thusly titled because his given name is Jonathan McCollum and Jonny Valiant was a self assigned nickname of some sort.
The album is an autobiographical piece. It tells of his [Rittz’s] coming up and some of the thoughts he’s been having since (as well as on the way) to becoming famous.
“My Interview” was a clever track. It is, as the title says, an interview between Rittz and a female reporter. The interview addresses the origins of his stage name, rapper Yelawolf giving him his first break, his hair, childhood, and his rhyming style. It mixes between irritation about certain questions (i.e. his name and his hair) and pride about other things (Gwinnett Co., GA and Yelawolf).
“Like I Am” is almost the reverse of a typical hip-hop track. Granted, he talks about sex and a certain level of braggadocio is there as well. But that is about where it ends. The track notes how Rittz and his crew aren’t like typical rappers with expensive clothes and things of that sort. He also destroys the stereotype that anyone from the South is automatically country, a stigma that is further by ignorance of the region and people like Paula Deen (her diction and feigned accent as opposed to her penchance for certain words). As a Southerner I wholly agree.
“Wastin’ Time” is rather introspective and insightful. On this one Rittz talks about his school troubles and how his life compares to those around him. He notes that they have graduated form college as well as started families. He notes that as a rapper he doesn’t particularly have those types of successes. The track is aided by an equally thoughtful verse by Big K.R.I.T. His experiences seem to parallel Rittz’s in certain ways.
Mike Posner is featured on two of my favorite songs on this album.
The first is “Always Gon Be” is a track that chronicles how his going on the road with his music is putting a strain on the relationship between himself and his girlfriend. Between distance and pictures taken out of context, their love is on the rocks. The song basically tell how things will be until something big happens for Rittz. Posner sings a smooth hook that tops the song off well.
“Switch Lanes” is the typical smooth Southern ode to the car. In the vein of Big K.R.I.T.’s “Rotation” or Ludacris’ “2 MPH” this is the type of song that you van roll down the highway to. Mike Posner kills yet another hook amid Rittz and his rhymes.
Also check out: “Heaven”, “Fuck Swag”.
From beginning to end Rittz crafts an amazing album that is personal and well delivered. I see a long career for him if he can stick to this winning formula.
written by Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine