Ray West & OC - Ray's Cafe

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Clocking in with a gratifyingly short nine tracks, Ray West and OC's "Ray's Cafe" is added proof that some veteran rappers still belong in the booth.

In 1994, OC became the second-to-last DITC member to release a solo debut, preceding Big L in ‘95 and following records from Lord Finesse and Fat Joe earlier in the decade. In 2012, 18 years removed from Word...Life and seven from a solo release, he returned alongside Apollo Brown with Trophies, an album that topped year-end lists across the web (including a spot on DX’s own Top 25 of the year). Trophies could easily have been a final book-end for Omar Credle, both as a late career renaissance but also as another characteristically indie effort (this after launching a career on Wild Pitch and jumping around between labels like Payday, JCOR, and Hiero Imperium through the years).

With Apollo Brown on deck, Trophies probably introduced OC to younger, blog-friendly fans as much as it brought his older supporters out to CD stores (the vinyl version of that album has also been repressed several times over). With Ray West in 2014, a producer with a little less buzz than Apollo had two years ago, OC has curated a more laid back and purposefully smooth affair. Besides flowing freely from track-to-track with the help of atmospheric interludes, Ray’s Cafe is noticeably and gratifyingly short at nine tracks long as well.

Released on Red Apples 45, a small label co-founded by West and OC’s DITC sibling AG, Ray’s Cafe is conceptual in approach more than in practice. While the cover-art and some of the subject-matter place the listener squarely in a hazy Jazz cafe from the 1970s, most songs aren’t tethered to the idea too closely. After an intro that sounds convincingly like a small crowd settling in before a show, OC opens up on the title track. “Grown folk relax like adults supposed to / You amped up, listen to the sound of my vocals,” he raps. For most of the album’s production, West carves out samples that manage to isolate and center interesting riffs and grooves without extra noise cluttering around them. “Have Fun” is the most obvious example of the approach with its echoing guitar strums and underplayed keys beneath. The song lacks a break or an obvious bassline but effectively ends up sounding like something the emcee might perform at an unplugged session.

Especially on the first three tracks, O mines the café theme for mellowed out party talk. Like the line above, the rapper includes a “grown folk” mention on the following two songs as well (“Grown folk keep it adult” he spits on “Soul Kitchen” before recalling a trip to Aruba). On these lounge-worthy tracks, when the rapper talks about pot-smoke or name-checks a liquor brand, it’s not a bottle service or endorsement brag as much as another scene setter. “Welcome to Ray’s Cafe / All welcome, none selfish / Shots at the gate, Grey Goose and Welch’s,” he raps halfway through the title song.

“Go Back” is the only track to include features with its space for Milano and AG, but their appearances come at the expense of an OC intermission. The track’s bounciness is a bit out of place but changes the pace nicely for the second half of the album. “Lovers” pulls OC back in for a track about anonymous attraction and an imagined relationship with a subway encounter. OC boosting himself up for an approach is as amusing as it is relatable, especially with its obvious tinge of self-doubt. “In a good way ready myself for battle / Thinking there’s nothing that duke can’t handle / Knowing how strong’s my alpha / It’s no doubt me and you could end up being…” he raps.

Particularly with Trophies as OC’s most recent late-career reference point, Ray’s Cafe is added proof that some veteran rappers still belong in the booth. With OC’s downplayed confidence and breezy production in tow, the album is less eager than nostalgic. Somewhere on Ray’s Cafe, in between mood-setting tracks and ‘back-in-the-day’ memories, OC proudly answers a question that any aging emcee might face. “You ashamed of your age?” he asks. “Nah, I lived for 38 summers.”



  • cardan

    real hip hop... classic OC

  • T

    Excellent album, I couldn't be happier with this. Hopefully in time it will become known as a must own for real hip hop heads

  • PML

    O.C. is incredible on this! I recommend the album Trophys also, from last year with Apollo Brown! Classic material. Oh! And i hope he and the rest of D.I.T.C. makes another album! Diffenetly one of the illest crews ever... Showbiz and A.G., Lord Finesse, Fat Joe, Diamond D, and late great Big L. (RIP)

  • Anonymous

    OC is always dope but I guess I expected too much after "Trophies". Its okay just highly forgettable.

  • Omar

    A good listen from start to finish. Must Have album

  • junMaf*ckn

    This Is Better Than Trophies. Ray's Cafe Has A Cohesive Feel and An Overall Theme of Tranquility and Positivity. Trophies Was Sporadic and Random. Ain't Nuttin' On Trophies Touching YMI.

  • DoItBig89

    5 stars, 90s golden era flow. One love to DITC. These editors are a bunch of trendy ass clowns to rate this less than a 5.

  • East Coast

    Love OC, but this is mediocre in comparison to Trophies. Trophies, Starchild, Jewelz, Word...Life. That's what you need before anything else.

  • Mauro Gimeno Santos

    love that kind of smooth hip-hop! I Personally think Ray West beats fit perfectly OC's voice

  • Richard

    Love every project with O.C on it, He is one of the greatest Trophies was a straight classic I still bump to that over and over again Cant wait to get my hands on this.

  • jg


  • CP

    @ harlem. not hating, just saying that constantly yammering about girls, ckubs, drinks, cars and money shows severe lack of intelligence

  • Melanon

    This shit hasn't even leaked yet and you bozo's are in here yammering.

  • Junior

    Apollo Brown & OC made a classic. People trying to repeat that, but there is only 1 Trophies.

  • Slept on phenom

    I agree the album was ehh .....OC is my favorite rapper and his rhymes are always good I just wish ray west would've held him down with some better beats . There's a couple tracks though that make the album worth buying in my opinion

  • CP

    swagger? lmfao!! swagger=NO BALLS/NO COCK! real MCs give a shit less about "swag"(dumbass term, Snoop's "izzle" at the end of everything was better than "swag")

  • Carrie Knight

    til I saw the receipt 4 $6347 , I have faith that my sister was actualy bringing home money part time on there computar. . there sisters neighbour started doing this 4 less than 1 year and a short time ago paid for the mortgage on there place and bourt Aston Martin DB5 . see this... www.Tec80.Com in the last round, showing Calicoe the big picture, still got me fucked up. This shit is gon be must see t.v.

  • CP

    and i finally checked out that LP by skeme, all money talk, not my language

  • Stiffneck Johnson

    Really eager to hear this. Jay B is a good reviewer, so I trust his opinion, but love what I've heard so far.

  • john

    3 an a half?! what he said ^^^

  • crownheights

    OC definitely still belongs in the booth! Can't wait for this album to drop. Intelligence and wisdom are both contained in his lyrics. Fans of the trap need not pick this one up due to the fact their IQ is normally below room temp.

  • CP

    you all have lost it when troy ave gets a better rating than OC

    • Harlem's Reckoning

      You went wrong the second you hated on one cat to try and exult another. If you don't like somebody, keep it moving and make your case for OC w/out shitting on Troy who's doing his thing. Your audience is lost when you start in on that hating shit.

    • Jay Balfour

      No, man, it was fairly accurate. Not saying it sucked balls or anything, but this album lacked charisma in my opinion. There weren't enough standout tracks. It wasn't that great, and it wasn't too lackluster.

    • bein real in the field

      Troy Ave sucks. I agree, that was a poorly-handled review.

    • Jay Balfour

      Well that nigga was rapping about some exciting shit. Troy has way more swagger. The older, swagless niggas in the rap game need to hang that shit because nobody wants to hear their asses. Go back to collecting dust along with the vinyls at the record stores, you old fossils.