Roddy Ricch released one of the most dominant rap debuts of the past decade in 2019. Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial, debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 charts and stayed there for four weeks. The defining single “The BOX,” took over the charts for so long, both Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez actively campaigned to try and unseat him. The “ee-er” will forever be burnt in fans’ collective psyches. Other smashes (“Start Wit Me,” “High Fashion”) followed suit, placing Ricch on the fast track to international stardom.
With the Grammy Award-winning artist’s first album, he established himself as the burgeoning melodic rap genre’s white light. Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial remains a landmark of the new style, one that showed its potential beyond TikTok virality. But whereas that album showcased Ricch at the top of his game, LIVE LIFE FAST finds him scratching the surface of what he’s proved himself capable of. The hooks are uninspired, raps mediocre and beats don’t hold a candle to his debut.
Ricch is in a much different place in his life compared to his first album. He’s a new father, an in-demand artist and dealing with the trials and tribulations that come when an artist blows up quickly. Instead of falling prey to the temptations to put his career and personal life in hyperdrive, he attempts to slow down and avoid the potholes that plagued young artists before him. LIVE LIFE FAST is Ricch grappling with how to move now that he’s a rap star. The antisocial extrovert now has to play the game, and it’s been wearing on him.
It shows in the music. Ricch sounds unsure of his direction and style, making for a stark drop in quality and a sea of throwaways with peaks of inspiration sprinkled in ever so often.
After album intro “llf” succinctly proposes the album’s concept, Ricch inundates the listener with faceless party tracks. This would be OK if the songs went hard, but most of them are bland and unremarkable. The track “thailand” tries to be a banger but is only notable for Ricch’s ear-piercing nasal drawl. It comes right after the somber intro too, making it a head-scratcher.
He seems to try and use the more vain songs as storytelling devices, to later talk about the drawbacks of the lifestyle. But he constantly strays from the concept, resulting in half-baked wisdom. Like his new mentor Kanye West did on Donda, it feels like he built a skeleton concept album but forgot to connect all the threads.
While Ricch’s conceptual work helped set him apart, he’s more known for his fine-tuned melodic sensibilities, which have been harshly dulled on this project. There are some highlights, however. “don’t i” recaptures some of the magic of “Start Wit Me,” showing Roddy Ricch and Gunna are a veritable power duo. The Kodak Black and 21 Savage-assisted “hibachi” is a triumphant celebration of new-age talent coupled with two of the more unique rappers of the 2010s, ending with a show-stealing verse by Sir Savage. The lead single, “late at night,” is one of the blessed few that capitalizes on the call-to-lethargy established by the intro. It’s romantic, melodic and entrancingly leisurely.
There’s also some moments of ambition, such as on “Moved To Miami,” where Ricch gets in a rolling flow contest with Lil Baby as the keys trickle like waterfalls.
While most of the tracks are unremarkable, there are some egregious misses. “rollercoastin” is one of the worst songs in Ricch’s catalog, a blatant throwaway that lacks personality and, shockingly, a real hook. He then enlists drill rapper Fivio Foreign on “murda one” to capitalize on drill’s momentum, but proves he’s intensely unequipped for that style. On “all good” he sounds out of place with his half-committed flexes alongside notorious hedonist Future.
But the worst offense of the album is it’s not interesting enough to have strong feelings about it; the songs simply exist and then fade from memory minutes later. For an artist who’s worked to show off his genuine nature, sticky hooks and ability to adapt to different styles, Ricch sounds like he bit off more than he could chew, resulting in uninspired material.
It’s excruciatingly clear Ricch is capable of so much more than this.
LIVE LIFE FAST is a comfortable, safe and inoffensive album, but it’s an overall disappointment. It’s proof even the brightest artists are still susceptible to the dreaded sophomore slump. It’s not a monumental fall from grace like Lil Yachty’s Teenage Emotions, but it barely outpaces Big Sean’s Hall Of Fame, both notable examples of sophomore slumps. The ambition is commendable but in the process of Ricch trying to slow things down, he’s relegated his lambo to autopilot.
People tearing apart this Roddy Ricch album, I fucked with it personally pic.twitter.com/nruwCLeVri
— YKTV (@VibesAllDay777) December 17, 2021
Roddy Ricch took 2 years to give us this lackluster album, I’m sick. pic.twitter.com/itqmlzMqGn
— Ahmed/Are You A Sicko🇸🇴 (@big_business_) December 17, 2021
this Roddy Ricch album.. pic.twitter.com/sEMX360cyR
— chris 🌙 (@wtfcport) December 17, 2021