R-Mean’s New Album: Not So Mean

Andres Aguila

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” is more than a classic Western starring Clint Eastwood, it is the only way Glendale native Armin Hariri’s, aka “R-Mean,” second album, “The Risin Son” could be rated.

First and foremost, “R-Mean” was born in Los Angeles, but lived in Amsterdam for 18 years before coming back to California. Some Glendale enthusiasts have indeed heard his name once or have even seen him perform at a high school or club, but for those who haven’t, they are not missing much.

Every time a music fan listens to a new album by any artist, there is always the hope of never having to push the “next track” button. So in order for an LP to be great, all the songs have to be worth a person’s time.

The former GCC student’s 20-track album, released on Feb. 21, aside from his mix tape “Jackin’ for Beats” 2007, takes a serious shadowy approach into R-Mean’s life.

The Good:

There’s a good reason why “good” would be the perfect word for the songs under this category: they aren’t great, but don’t reek of the mainstream “bubble gum rap” played on the radio.

There are two songs that really stood out from the rest. The song “Oh No (Don’t Go)” is a well-constructed production and the story behind the rhymes really fit the beat. The same goes for the song “Still Risin,” the production is really well done. The average hip-hop fan will appreciate the scratching and smooth melody that flows throughout the beat.

“Tell me, who’s to the rescue/ when Uncle Sam just keeps abusing his nephews?” The lyrics from “Voice of the People,” featuring Ashley Winters, are what kept this song from falling into the “bad” category. And a note to listeners when hearing this song, don’t panic! It’s not your speakers, it’s the beat.

The Bad:

Although the hook of the song “I Made It” is really catchy, it is noticeably louder than the rest of the song, which doesn’t help it out in the end.

The next track on the list starts out right away with a sample of Eminem for the hook. Surprisingly, not even Eminem could save the song entitled “Meanest MC.” Wow! Didn’t think he could be so mean. Thought it was one of those ironic situations, like naming a big guy “Smalls.” Nope? Oh well.

It seems R-Mean is trying to be real dark in these last two songs. In “Your Nightmare Begun,” he raps about the battlefield being his only home among other nightmarish things. There’s also the misfortune of not being able to hear the lyrics over the excessively busy beat.

The Ugly:

The songs in this category are ugly, and simply aren’t worth hearing.

Some may think a song with hip-hop in the title (“I am Hip Hop”) would be about hip-hop. But maybe the scratching will do because there are hardly any lyrics in the song about the elements of hip-hop.

These next three songs don’t fit in with the rest of the album – good examples of songs rappers should stay away from if they want to be considered good emcees.

“Posted Up,” which features Roscoe from the DPG family, feels like it was poorly placed in the album because right after you have heard the song “Still Risin’,” the mood changes from a serious good song to the total opposite. It is, however, good to hear Roscoe on a track!

“Threesixtyfive” has a sort of T-Pain-like auto-tune in the hook. That’s all that has to be said to consider this an ugly song.
Last and certainly least is the song “See it in His Swagger.” This track, among the other millions of rap songs with the word “swagger” in their title, seems to use the word only on the basis of being hip and cool. Plus, there is the strong possibility that many people out there want the word “swagger” banned from their vocabulary. They don’t need to hear it again.

Overall, listening to “The Risin’ Son,” is a disappointing experience. The two gems of the album, “Oh No Don’t Go” and “Still Risin’,” produced by State of Art, set a high bar for the rest of the album – which it just doesn’t reach.

The album is filled with as much “like” reference verses to the point where that’s the only thing a person would be paying attention to. Some examples: “Stomach growling like a wolf/ howling in the break of dawn” and “Our relationship was Rocky like Balboa.” Not bad, but still a little too much.

Upon opening the album and looking inside, there is an assumption that it was going to be a dark and tough album, but looks are deceiving.

There is also no way R-Mean’s “style” resembles a hungry Nas or Eminem! Not even close. And if there was ever a person who listened to certain hip-hop albums and wished they didn’t have so many featured artists, they might be wishing the opposite for this one. The guest artists outshine R-Mean throughout the album.

In the end, it lacks a sense of style and feels as if a cluster of songs were just thrown together.

There may, however, be some out there who may actually enjoy this album. There are a lot of good beats, just don’t expect anything legendary.

1 ´ out of 5 stars