I’ll admit that I’m not a big fan of hip-hop these days and really don’t know much about Trenton’s hip-hop scene anymore.  I know Wise Intelligent just dropped a damning new album that completely decimates the police – the man has always been political but that album DESTROYS the cops.  I know Big Ooh is still out there doing his thing.  But that’s about it.

That is until Ray Strife just fell into my radar.  This dude…he’s a white dude who used to be in a punk band called Crack Filler who now segued into being a rapper.  Everyone knows how the Beastie Boys started and look where they went.  Hell even Kate Schellenbach went on to great things.  So former punker turned rapper right here in Trenton?  Score.

Ray Strife dropped an EP titled Preface: I Will Never Be Beautiful along with his beatmaker Ill-Omega.  The EP dropped to Bandcamp where you can pick it up for four measly bucks.  Or you can be damn cheap and listen to the entire EP in the video below. What?  I didn’t put this shit on YouTube…Ray Strife put the EP on YouTube!  So cheap motherfuckers like you can enjoy the music!

It seems that this EP are songs from the upcoming full length release Go For The Gusto.  So it’s a taste of what’s to come.

So what’s good here?  I think there’s a lot.  Ray Strife has an amazing flow so it’s not like the man made a mistake going from punk singer to rapper.  The lyrics are pretty tight and Ill-Omega’s beats are great.  Out of the five songs on the EP I really enjoy 4 of them.  There’s was one track that turned my ears off instantly – the fourth track Carnal Knowledge.  Not sure what it was about the song but then suddenly it ended.  It was only a minute and change.  So I guess that was a plus.  But beyond that very short track I disliked I enjoyed everything else here.  It felt smooth.  It made me bob my head.  And I guess, most important, it just sounds different then the normal rap crap I consistently want to turn off these days.

Rich Quick and Rocky guest on a track each.  Not being familiar with them either the only thoughts I had was they added nicely to the tracks.  Don’t know if they are local to Trenton, Newark, Camden, Philly, NYC…or maybe Princeton?  Who the hell knows.  I’ll have to research.

When you release an EP that are songs from the upcoming album the job is to get you hooked so you want that full length when it finally arrives.  Does Preface do that job?  Yes it does.  Not only did I want to hear the full album I searched YouTube for other stuff by Ray Strife.  He has a bit – including an amazing song/video he did called Self-Loathing Egomaniac…which I’ll probably put below as well.  Track is tight.

So what’s bad here?  Not much.  I really hoped with a punk background that maybe there would be at least a song that harkens back to that sound.  Nothing wrong about rapping over some sort of hybrid punk/hip-hop beat.  I would have loved to see Ray’s past and present come together for a song.  But who knows.  Maybe in the future.

You can pick up the EP here: https://raymondstrife.bandcamp.com/album/preface-i-will-never-be-beautiful.

Hopefully I’ll be back once the full length album is finally released.  Hearing this album really makes me think that I’m probably missing some good rap here in Trenton that I’ll need to find…

RANK: A-