(Photo By Rustik)
If readers recall, Rustik was first mentioned on the site in relation to the previously covered runway event at Crisp Pizza Bar with Monk-bms. And though he was part of a trio that night, he definitely stood out on his own. The Illixer got the chance to chop it up briefly with the down to earth emcee and now has the opportunity to share a collection of his music. Rustik has been involved with Hip-Hop since 2003. He started out with a group called Hustle Fam but would eventually find himself working solo. Also, he got into producing and engineering with Man Mantis from Madison. He has worked with some artists who are no strangers to the site like Ole P and Mad Static. And as mentioned before, he and Monk-bms are currently working on a collaborative masterpiece. What he has decided to share is an album that features an assortment of tracks from his catalog and studio sessions with Ikarus Down. The purpose of the project is to showcase the various techniques and styles of Rustik as a songwriter and artist. So without further delay, let’s dig in!
“Smoke Rings” (SoundCloud)
This track was produced by Kloqwyse, engineered by Man Mantis, and written by Rustik himself. The production here is fire. Sonically it has a Hip-Hop fused with a hint of Latin flavor going on. It moves at a mid-tempo groove and gives off a very smooth vibe. The hook is solid. The delivery is inventive. There is a slightly melodic style at work, along with a little bit of vocal distortion. The lyrics are simple but appealing. The verses are on point. Rustik has an easy to follow flow, crafty wordplay, and good rhymes. Those elements coupled with the various vocal effects really make the verses pop. He enticingly relays his smoking adventures to the listener. Overall, this song is great. It was uniquely put together and would make a nice addition to any smoker’s playlist. Interesting way to kick off the project.
“Monster” (The Monster EP)
This cut was produced by Jay Thomas. Man Mantis and Rustik made the same contributions that they did in the previous track and serve as engineer and writer for the remaining tracks to be covered as well. The production here is of premium quality. It contains an upbeat vibe with light musical elements and effects thrown in. The hook is excellent. The sing song delivery and quick-witted lyrics are super contagious and hard not to like: “Cause I’m a be the monster under your bed. Yeah, I’m a be the evil inside of your head. Yeah I’m a be the bad bad things that you did. You did, you did, you did, you did;” those words instantly stick with the listener from the moment they are heard. The verses are stellar too. Rustik brings a free spirited flow and entertaining rhymes. He reflects on his plans once making it big in a light hearted manner that makes the verses very pleasing to listen to. In the end, this track is a winner and a favorite from the collection.
“With A Gun In My Hand” (Bring Back Hip Hop)
Man Mantis takes on the role of both producer and engineer for this song. The production is hot. It features a steady bass, some soulful background vocals, and an old school Hip-Hop vibe. The hook is decent. The delivery is low key and the lyrics are uncomplicated but still memorable. This is a short track, so there is only one verse. But the one verse is dope. Rustik sheds his playful demeanor and takes on a more serious tone. He contributes a distinctive flow, neat references, and choice rhymes. This is one of those joints that’s not so much about a certain idea or message but more so about an emcee flaunting his skills for the listener. Highlight lines include: “I’m whooping any cats’ ass in my path like Double Dragon. I’m the Mega Man with a heavy cannon for the battle mode, handle that. Feeling froggish like a f–king battle toad. Ya hating on me, better watch your mouth smarty. I’m the freshest white rapper since Jamal from House Party. Bounce shorty.” Rustik did his thing in those lines. All in all, this track is another hit.
“Switch Lanes” (Bring Back Hip Hop)
Rustik doubles as producer and writer on this joint. A sample of “Toast To The Other Man” by One Way and Al Hudson can be heard in this number. The production here is fair. There is a classic R&B element present due to the sample, a light knock, and a relaxed vibe. However, the pace of the track could use some work. It switches back and forth between mid-tempo and slow. One would assume it is a play on the title. Which is a clever concept but it didn’t quite translate right on this cut. It makes things sound a little choppy. Maybe keeping the first and last transitions, then sticking to one set pace for the rest of the song would have been better. The hook is satisfactory. The sample blends well with the original content and it has a certain appeal to it. The verses are respectable, though not Rustik’s best work. He had a clean cut flow, moderate wordplay, and up to par rhymes. With that said, the content could have been a tad more lively and creative. Overall, this cut is worth a listen or two.
“Phillies” (Bring Back Hip Hop)
This is another Man Mantis produced single. The song incorporates samples from: Nas, Das EFX, and Big L. The production here is slick. The street vibe combined with the old school deejay scratching and the various other sound effects results in an epic sound. The hook is basically just the different samples mixed together. The verses are gratifying. Rustik’s flow fits the beat perfectly and his lyrics don’t disappoint either. This is another track that is purely about the music. It serves as an adequate example of Rustik’s abilities. Check it as he spits: “But I know they on they own s–t. Working on they own rhyme. Practicing they own spit. Style of a grown man. Body of a young cat. Known for the backpack and out of the trunk rap. My mind’s different. Vision is like sand. Thoughts from my own pain. Derived from my own pen.” Skillfull lyricism in those lines right there. This track is a banger and another favorite.
“Forgotten Battles” (Bring Back Hip Hop)
Man Mantis handled the production here too. And he did a wonderful job. The deep heavy tones and the diverse background elements create intense vibes. It should be noted that there is a complete change up in the beat about half way into the song. This time around the switch works out fine though. There is no hook here. But everything is smartly placed and there is a flawless transition between the two beat selections, so a hook isn’t really necessary. The verses are sufficient. Rustik comes with a tight flow and top notch rhymes. He does a compelling job of letting his more aggressive side shine on this cut. Another superb offering from the local emcee.
**My Two Cents: I like Rustik’s style a lot. He alters it just enough so it never gets boring. Also, I like the fact that he is willing to experiment and try out different sounds/techniques. The best emcees are the ones who can successfully be diverse. Rustik certainly fits into that group. As a whole, I thought the compilation was great. It gives a full scope of what Rustik can do. And with 22 total tracks there is plenty of material to keep any listener busy. Some of the tracks could use a slight tune up but with so much content, that’s to be expected. Readers can check out the featured tracks and more via the above provided links. And Rustik can be found on Facebook and YouTube. -MinM