LaRussell and Hit-Boy have finally released their collaborative album Rent Due on streaming services, after first dropping the project a few weeks ago on the platform EVEN. The EVEN website allows creators to drop material for their fans ahead of schedule, in exchange for a pay-what-you-want method of listening, similar to BandCamp’s distribution system. Since rappers tend to make very little from the regular streaming avenues, this makes the exchange mutually beneficial for artists and listeners alike.

Rent Due is a 7-track EP that runs 18 minutes in length and features thoughtful lyrics penned by California’s own LaRussell over powerful drum-forward production from Hit-Boy. The project boasts guest features from MALACHI, Big Hit, and JANE HANDCOCK, and delivers a powerful and well-thought-out sound, despite LaRussell’s claim that he and Hit-Boy crafted the album in just 5 hours. Here’s an overview of the freshly released outing, and a review of the material within.

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The EP Opens Very Strong

Some of the best material on Rent Due is front-loaded into the first few tracks on the EP. The opening track, “Lead Me To The Water” kicks off the project with an appearance from frequent LaRussell collaborator Tietta, who delivers a thoughtful and moving spoken word passage. Tietta’s lyrics reflect on life’s hardships and seek guidance from God as she relishes the blessings she’s received. The song’s airy spaced-out production from Hit-Boy allows LaRussell plenty of room to explore and experiment in his lone verse, which concludes with the lyrics “Can’t tell if I got a job, n****, I be home a lot/ Can’t tell if I really made it, n****, I be wearin Crocs/ I think I’ma end this song with a lesson from my pops/ Be a leader.

These closing bars are particularly poignant as Hit-Boy’s real-life dad, Big Hit, joins LaRussell on “Another One” just a couple of tracks later. Unfortunately, the opportunity fails to tie in thematically with the EP’s general focus, as Big Hit offers very little in the way of traditional wisdom during his guest appearance. “Another One” serves as a vacuous trap banger, with bouncing rubbery bass perfect for blasting out your car’s speakers while rolling through your neighborhood with the windows down, but definitely feels like a pointless inclusion when compared to thoughtful lyrical outings such as “Ethics” and “Real Life.”

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LaRussell & Hit-Boy Showcase Their Chemistry

“Real Life” is possibly the best track on the project, with guest vocals from MALACHI and JANE HANDCOCK. On the track, LaRussell offers a deep look into his personal outlook on life and takes listeners through the journey of his early days in Vallejo, California, all the way to his modern mastery of the rap sound. JANE HANDCOCK’s angelic hook vocals elevate the cool, laid-back banger to the next level.

Unfortunately, the final three tracks on Rent Due fail to capture the same magic as the first four, as LaRussell and Hit-Boy collaborate without any additional features. While the pair certainly work well together, it’s impossible to listen to Hit’s inspired production choices without comparing the project to the recent string of collaborative albums the producer made with Nas. If you’re one of the few hip-hop heads who somehow missed Nas and Hit-Boy’s King’s Disease and Magic album trilogies, Rent Due will certainly please your sensibilities. However, through no fault of his own, LaRussell’s pen game simply pales in comparison to Nas, making much of the album feel like a missed opportunity.

[Via]

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