Roddy Ricch Goes Outside the Box With Measured, Insightful ‘Live Life Fast’: Album Review

Roddy Ricch had a very good 2020. After releasing “The Box” in Dec. 2019, the Compton rapper hit his stride, logging his first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 and registering one of the biggest hits of the year with 11 weeks at the top spot. Not only did the track earn a rare diamond certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), it along with parent album “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial” landed three Grammy Award nominations. With no sign of slowdown, the 16-track project boomeranged back to No. 1 in its fifth week, becoming the longest-running No. 1 debut rap album in the United States since 2003.

With additional accolades pouring in — including two BET Awards, a pair of BET Hip Hop Awards and an American Music Award — the bar had been set incredibly high for the 23-year-old, and the pressure to deliver another home run was palpable for him.

As Ricch explained to Apple Music in a recent interview: “They say you make your first album and you got your whole life to make your first album. But with your second album, you got from your first album to your second album to make that shit and talk about mainly what went on between them two. If you a real artist, you ain’t just throwing shit out.”

So he took his time. Over two years after his debut, Ricch finally returned with his sophomore album, “Live Life Fast,” on Friday (Dec. 17). Despite its title, the highly anticipated project starts at a snail’s pace with the intro track “Ilf.” Over melancholic piano notes and an angelic choir, Roddy demonstrates a healthy amount of growth since becoming a father in April while simultaneously outlining the album’s concept.

“My OG Pete told me the goal in life was to have fast money, fast bitches and fast cars,” he grumbles, spoken word-style. “But the consequences behind that life is glory. But all fast things must slow down at some point, or life will force you to stop.

“His result was twenty-six years in the federal penitentiary. I’ve realized I’ve lived fast, I wanna take my time. Time is the most expensive luxury in the world. It’s something you spend and never get back, but you never know how much you have left.”

Just like that, the momentary stillness is over and “thailand” comes in like a freight train with its deep rolling bass and unrelenting high-hats. In what quickly becomes a common theme, Roddy Ricch is right back to his braggadocios ways as he wrestles with what sounds like an identity crisis occurring in real-time. On one hand, he wants to be a carefree young man spending money with wild abandon and rapping about his revolving door of romantic trysts but on the other, he aims to fully embrace his new role as a father and impart wisdom on his budding fanbase.

From “hibachi” with Kodak Black and 21 Savage to “no way” featuring a few motivational words from actor Jamie Foxx, the album rides a sonic wave of high-octane bangers and more subdued, reflective respites that provide fleeting glimpses into who Roddy Ricch is. Famously elusive, Ricch includes a line on the Lil Baby-assisted “moved to miami” where he says, “I got power and move like a ghost,” which essentially sums up his career. Where most of his peers have had to camp out on social media and drum up controversy to make headlines, he’s been able to find massive success being intentionally enigmatic. Turns out, the “antisocial” element from his debut wasn’t smoke and mirrors — he prefers to keep his private life, private.

But there are several moments where Ricch peels back the onion, periodically adding brief soliloquies about his life or a loving voicemail from his grandmother. Particularly, “crash the party” ends with a 60-second confessional in which he reveals that music once stopped him from committing suicide.

“I had pulled up on my DJ at the time and he was just tellin’ me keep my head up and shit like that,” he dryly explains. “Shit was crazy, you know? I felt like I wanted to die, I felt like I ain’t even wanna be no more ’cause I just — I ain’t have shit at the time, you know what I’m sayin’?

“And music was all I really had, so you know just from goin’ to jail and fucking around in the streets, I knew it wasn’t shit so I had to just, keep my head up, keep goin’, get focused, grind that shit out.”

Meanwhile, album closer “25 million” employs beautiful Spanish guitars for Ricch to truly digest his evolution from a poverty-stricken Park Village Compton Crip to famous rap star, uncharted territory he’s clearly doing his best to navigate — albeit slowly.

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