Before the social media exchange with RJ Payne that launched the latest barrage of ‘who’s the best spitter’ conversation (as well as some heated diss tracks from Lupe, Royce 5’9″ and Mickey Factz), Ransom was already being viewed as one of the illest emcees in the game. Yes, most of the hip hop community are a little late to the party considering Ransom has been on the scene since around 2008, but he hasn’t really been on THIS level since last year when he came for the game by the neck. The New Jersey mic fiend aligned himself with producer Wes Craven and dropped a 5 EP series that kept his name in everyone’s mouth due to the ferocity of his approach, the quality of his flow and the sharpness of his pen.
Now, 2021 is here and Ransom is at the top of his game and height of his career. He’s gone from carving out a lane, to building the damn freeway that others are now using to try and chase him at high speed. Yeah, we know Rans said it, we know RJ Payne agrees and there are plenty of others in his corner, so it ain’t no kinda shock when we say it – if he isn’t the best doing it right now, you better bring me a top tier challenger. Earlier this year, on the back of some scorching singles, Ransom dropped ‘Se7en’ and we gave flowers for that opus. Now it’s time to take a deep dive into his latest joint ‘Heavy is the Head‘ produced entirely by Big Ghost LTD.
Let’s address the clear nod to the iconic and cult classic Game Of Thrones. Ransom is as creative as he is clever and with another ‘concept’ style release he proves that he is not just a master of the mic, but a master of the game. It’s a crafty nod and instalment into the ‘battle’ for the throne of supremacy and you can take that how you want it. Lyrically, this is revisited many times throughout the album too which keeps that coherence and listening engagement from start to finish.
I’ll start by addressing the sonic backdrop provided by Big Ghost Ltd. After a big win teaming up with Conway for ‘If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed‘ among other dopeness in the past 12 months, the production on ‘Heavy Is The Head‘ is downright filthy. He has bought into Ransom’s GoT concept and delivered dark, brooding, heavy AF production which solidifies this release and allows Ransom AND the heavy hitter spitters like RJ Payne, Mickey Factz, and Rome Streetz to bully. It’s varied much like a TV series or movie score, we get hard hitting, dusty, ethereal with some rock infused production, solid choir-esque hooks…. it’s the complete package, and it’s fantastic work.
Lyrically, Ransom brings the fire with bars sharper than the sword that took Ned Stark’s head. However, to JUST focus on the lyrics and precision of his pen, is to not adequately address the manner in which Rans delivers them. His flow is a brilliant blend of battle rap, bully rap and impassioned storytelling that few can capture or deliver with such authenticity. “Who you know better? Don’t make the wrong choice / I play this game without stretchin’, ’cause I destroy joints / Ran’ is at it again / I am fully mad with this pen / Like Lonzo and LaMelo / this fellow’s ill with a ball point” he spits on the album opener ‘Lord Stark’. The bar for bars is set pretty high from the jump.
‘All the Kings Men‘ is a piano-laden joint that just lets Ran, Mickey Factz and J. Arrr step up and deliver their heat – the latter two ensuring they aren’t embarrassed on the joint by going hard with the pen. ‘Ransom the Destroyer‘ pops, with some big horns and and intro ‘announcing’ Ransom before he does his thang while ‘The Red Wedding‘ (arguably my favourite track on the album) brings RJ Payne into the fray and as you can imagine, the temperature goes up as Payne delivers bars like an army delivers blows. The synth-heavy joint elicits feelings of dread and despair which is more in-line with the GoT episode of the same name.
A more soulful approach is taken for ‘Tyranny‘ and the introspective track is a change of pace, but still chock full of quality quotables, then the rock-riff of ‘Blackwater‘ kicks in and we’re back to brash, braggadocious bars. Ran of course crushes it, but Rome Streetz jumps on this number and delivers a filthy sixteen. ‘Off With His Head‘ is a more methodical, measured, dusty drum track which is stripped back allowing the Heavy Metal Kings (Vinnie Paz & ILL Bill) to manoeuvre their way through the production, adding a unique feel to this joint as Vinnie co-signs ‘the great’ narrative. The final track is ‘A Kings Ransom‘ and it’s between the eerie choir track and the down-scale keys, Ransom leaves no stone unturned, finishing with powerful bars to round out the album.
Bangers: The Red Wedding, Off With His Head, All the Kings Men.
Score: 9.5 / 10. It slaps and there is no denying it. Ransom really has one of the better pens in the game but he also has one of the illest flows. His concept joints such as his 5 LP series, the Se7en project and now this, stay committed to the path throughout and engage the listener from start to finish. The draw back, is much like GoT the series, just as things get going, it’s over. Ransom is working hard and putting out a BIG catalogue of music, but projects like this just seem a touch short to really give us the perfect experience. One of the releases of the year though, but Rans already has a few of those….
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