Rudeka - Sober (cover)

Sneak review of Rudeka’s upcoming mixtape ‘SOBER’

In Album Reviews, Reviews by Lena

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As a huge fan of artist Rudeka I recently had the chance to listen to his new album ‘SOBER’ prior to its release. Read on for my review of the album that I consider the best he has produced so far, an opinion I am not alone with.

Please note that at the time I previewed the album it was not completed yet, so the given information might be subject to change.

 

Artist

Rudeka (루드카) is an underground rapper who produces all of his songs himself and also sings from time to time. He has released over 14 albums, among them instrumental albums, One Piece and Marvel-inspired albums, and an R&B album. You can find the complete album list along with download links on the artist’s profile here, and an extensive interview with Rudeka about his latest work ‘The Amazing RUDE-MAN’ (2014) here.

 

Album Title and Cover

rudeka sober - drunken tiger 3

The cover shows Rudeka with his trademark, a gray hoodie. It is simple and clean like most of his cover artworks. Being a huge fan of Tiger JK, Rudeka’s album cover is a hommage to Drunken Tiger’s 3rd album ‘The Legend Of…’, as you can see above. The same goes for the title. As opposed to Drunken Tiger, the album is called ‘SOBER’; also because Rudeka does neither smoke nor drink alcohol. The reason for this is explained in the track ‘Drunken’.

 

Tracklist

Click on the titles to read my description of each track.

The very first thing that can be heard is ‘Skit #4’ from Drunken Tiger’s 2nd album ‘The Great Rebirth’ that goes as follows:

I am hiphop, you are hiphop, he is hiphop. You know what I’m saying? Everyone’s so great, cursing and fighting. Hiphop, you know what I’m saying? You are hiphop and I am hiphop and everyone is hiphop. Hiphop is a way of living, music, philosophy, you know what I’m saying? I’m just here to do what I like. Uh, so … You know what I’m saying … Shi* … Don’t mess with me … Real hiphop? Shi* … Not anyone can make hiphop!

The voice gradually changes from Tiger JK’s to Rudeka’s and then the music sets in. The lyrics tell of Rudeka’s hardships as an underground rapper who does his own thing and keeps going despite all the disappointments, no matter what is awaiting him.
As this track’s title ‘시작’ [Start] suggests, it is a good introduction to Rudeka’s music and the album itself.

‘가져가’ [Take It Away] is about the artist’s wish to stay true to himself, earn money one day with his music and support his family. In the hook that is quick to resound in your head he repeats several times “You can take everything away from me,” emphasizing that he is dedicating his everything to music. The track had been pre-released via Rudeka’s SoundCloud.
This is the only track with a playful sound. The artist describes ridiculous everyday situations with ‘fake’ friends, to which anyone can relate easily. The chorus is very Rudeka-like, sounding slightly off and having several repetitions. People who are accustomed to harmonious pop music melodies might need some time to get used to it, but then, if you too have had enough of fake friends, this is going to be your anthem. “Be my true, true, true friend!”
On a rock beat that ends with scratching, Rudeka cheekily and rather refreshingly vents his anger about the Korean hiphop scene and shows off his rap skills “more instinctively than Yoon Jungshin.” Decorated with puns, wordplays, and witty references, this is the perfect headbanging track to blow off steam when you feel like punching someone.
This song features female singer Shijung with who Rudeka has worked together many times before and who as usual delivers a dreamy chorus that gets support by a tipsy-sounding beat. The lyrics are very personal; the first verse tells of what happens when Rudeka does get drunk: his uncontrollable ‘evil’ side awakens and goes on a rampage. The second verse is written from his evil side’s point of view that laughs at his “weak and helpless” self. Outstanding in this track is the beat change before the third verse, which seems to mention why Rudeka would feel down in the first place to think of getting drunk and let out his evil.
For me, ‘Behind My Back’ is the highlight of the album, especially the track’s third verse. Rudeka’s characteristic from time to time slightly off rap fits the song’s theme: anger about those who badmouth him behind his back. Another track on which he vents his anger, but this time more harshly and violently since he is ‘drunken’, as the previous song suggests. The outro of this song goes “Try to stay sober,” introducing the next track.
Both the beat and the rap of this track sound clear and smooth, there are no signs of hard feelings. The artist soberly analyzes his current situation, where he stands, what he has already overcome, and how he has to keep going. ‘Sober’ is a relaxational tune after the tense and fierce ‘Behind My Back’.
In the album’s final track, Rudeka mocks and walks all over the rappers who “are busy writing hashtags to pictures of their ripped baggy pants on Instagram.” ‘Canswer’ is graced with witty, blunt, and as usual very graphic lyrics and punchlines. “I am as cruel as this world,” the artist describes himself. The hook’s lyrics basically explain how most of Rudeka’s music works: “I feel hate and anger, nothing has changed / I vent those [feelings] here [on the beat], nothing has changed.” This track’s outro left me hanging, literally screaming for more: “No, it can’t be over already!!”

 

Overall Review

After the first time I had listened to ‘SOBER’, I was in absolute awe, wondering why Rudeka has not yet received the attention he deserves and I truly wish that listeners will recognize his talent upon hearing this album even though and because it has not much in common with mainstream hiphop sounds.
As a whole, ‘SOBER’ is put together very well and offers a variety of tunes from jazz to rock while never losing its recurrent theme. There are no other lyrics I can identify with as well as with Rudeka’s and that is because he is always plain honest. In this album he raps and sings of life’s struggles and hardships but also of hope and determination. The album’s beats show several unusual elements, sounds you might have not heard in any hiphop beat before, which makes them fresh and interesting. The repetitive hooks had me sing and move along to the music after only a few listens. Thanks to Rudeka, I now know Drunken Tiger’s ‘Skit #4’ by heart and shout “힙합은 아무나 하나?!” [Not anyone can do hiphop!!] in perfect sync with the album’s intro.
The door to Rudeka’s music is not easy to open, but once you are in you know you have come to the right place. As a fan of his, this is my new favorite Rudeka album and I am surely going to have it on repeat for quite some time.

 

 


As of now, the artist has not decided on a release date yet due to the huge buzz about Show Me The Money, but Hiphop Korea will be sure to keep you posted.


 

 

As usual, we appreciate your feedback. Was this article interesting? Would you like to read more album reviews? Let us know your opinion.

 

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