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R.A. the Rugged Man: Legendary Classics, Volume 1

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On his 2004 track “Chains,” R.A. the Rugged Man raps that he is “mad famous for being unknown.” This is true. Despite having recorded with everyone from Notorious B.I.G. to Kool G Rap and having once been signed to Jive and Priority, R.A. has only one studio album in a career spanning nearly two decades. Which is why his new greatest hits CD, Legendary Classics, Volume 1, seems strange — until you realize the Long Island-born MC has enough beloved unreleased cuts and guest appearances to justify it. The work features Havoc from Mobb Deep, Biggie, and Sadat X, but it is R.A. who stands out with his uber-dense, chiseled-in-granite flow, which is as elegant as his lyrics are profane. If you’re not interested in explicit songs about dirty sex this might not be your bag, but for hip-hop fans unfamiliar with R.A.’s work, it's a perfect starting point. (Nature Sounds) 5 stars out of 5

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