The name “Ruste Juxx” doesn’t really ring any bells outside of his native Brooklyn, and that’s for a mixed bag of reasons. Aside from the fact that the fierce rapper is known as little more than a protegé of Sean Price, Ruste Juxx usually gets his buzz from the other Hip Hop ‘heads he’s known for working for (like R.A. The Rugged Man and Marco Polo).
The best thing that can be said about the 19-track King of Crime Heights album (so named for the Crown Heights district of Brooklyn in which he grew up) is that he’s chosen great beats for all the tracks. But that, really, is due to the consistency of Raticus, the guest producer for this album. Raticus prefers to use boom-bap beats that defined the East Coast Hip Hop of the 1990s, and while it may sound “tired” to the Gen-Z ear, it actually creates a melodic sound that is woefully absent in today’s rap music. (Not that “mumble rap” will necessarily sound better over a boom-bap beat, but it would at least be a step in the right direction.)
Unfortunately, while there are a few well-concealed gems on King of Crime Heights, and Ruste’s effort is certainly an ambitious one, the overall vibe of the joint is one that lacks focus.
This album comes nowhere near the greatness of 2016’s Meteorite, Juxx’s album with the brilliant Kyo Itachi behind the boards. Meteorite was a daring breath of fresh air that showcased Juxx’s ability to flex his rhyming muscle over unique, J-Pop-meets-Hip Hop beats.
Here, we get stuck with tracks like “Guerilla Groovin’,” which starts off with canned roars from a gorilla in the zoo (no, really), goes into the lyrics “roll the red carpet out/All hail Juxx, I’m the muthafuckin’ king in this/can’t connect, how the fuck you gon’swing in this?/Ring the alarm, now the sound is dying/you say you the truth, but you sound like you lyin’,” and ends with an R&B sample. How does all of this even make sense to you, sir?
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The clunky “Guerilla Groovin'” is the perfect example of a song that veers off course, and it’s a feeling that permeates throughout King of Crime Heights. It’s an album that could have been great but falls woefully short, and merely sits somewhere around fair to partly cloudy. That might be enough for a lesser rapper, but for Ruste Juxx — who is capable of greatness — King of Crime Heights is a royal disappointment.