The American hip-hop underground is going nuts for Seattle-stationed funk wizard Ronnue this summer, and while his highly anticipated new album Introduction 2 Retro-Funk isn’t quite a watershed, it’s an undebatable highlight for this talented young songwriter’s career, and moreover, it’s one of the most important indie rap LPs out this season. From his collaborations with Figuz (“Why”), Roc Phizzle and Soultry (“Do It (The Remix)”), to his skits (“Bathroom vs Studio”) to the lavish crossover funk grooves that adorn every song here, Ronnue’s latest record is a must-listen if you consider yourself a serious urban pop aficionado.
Singles “Something About U (The Retro-Funk Mix)” and “Be Your Freak” give listeners a pretty good idea about what Introduction 2 Retro-Funk is all about, and I would recommend spinning both before diving deeper into the tracklist here. The big beats and slick lyrical emission are cosmetic stunners, but there’s so much more to the substance of these two songs than just their flashy surface level frills. There’s a lot of emotion in these tracks, which makes it all the easier for us to connect with Ronnue when he’s singing their verses in a soft, fragile croon that appeals as much to casual pop fans as it does funk connoisseurs.
Enormous bass tones drag anything within their reach asunder in the potent “Give in 2 Me,” “I’m a Lesbian” and friction-driven “In Love” (which just might be my favorite of all Ronnue’s songs), but overindulgence is never an issue for this LP. On the contrary, I would go as far as to say that all of the tracks on this disc, including the fun but generally unrequired intermission in “Bathroom vs Studio,” contain virtually zero negative excess. Ronnue isn’t the type of artist to put bloated, artificial melodies onto a record just to fill in its ends, and as a result of his diligence, fans are gifted a no-B.S. listening experience on Introduction 2 Retro-Funk.
Instrumentally, I think that “You Tried Me (The Man’s Anthem)” is the most intellectually stirring composition on this album, and it features a surprisingly warm tone in each of its meticulously arranged components. A lot of love went into making this mix as tightly organized as it is, and for a year that has been leaving a lot to be desired among underground releases, to say that Ronnue’s new record is a breath of fresh air might be too big an understatement.
After giving Introduction 2 Retro-Funk my full attention over the past week, I must say that I cannot wait to see what Ronnue is going to do with his music next. This record, and all of the material that it shares with us, doesn’t have a comparable counterpart in the Seattle scene right now, and for that matter, it’s definitely among the more erudite hip-hop releases to make headlines this summer. Ronnue is on a roll right now, and if his luck stays as good as it has been this last year, he’s in for a lot more success as we broach a new decade roughly five months from now.
LIVE STREAM: open.spotify.com/album/238LGyk8kfy9uQTLrEGIJ4
The music of RONNUE has been heard all over the world due to the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Records. Learn more – musikandfilm.com