Album Review | CJ Fly – RUDEBWOY

This album was released on March 6th this year. Believe it or not, this is actually one of my most anticipated releases of the year. It’s mainly just because every single track that CJ Fly dropped leading up to this album’s full release was really awesome to me. I listened to his debut project, Thee Way Eye See It, when it came out in 2013, and I remember enjoying it at the time, but thinking it was kinda boring. I went back to it for the first time in years recently, and it’s actually way better than I remembered. The production is still really great, and the rapping was great as well. It’s a dope tape. The cover art is awesome too, so shoutout to Rowdee for doing that. He’s definitely one of my favorite graphic designers. CJ followed it up with Flytrap in 2016, which was kind of a dud to be honest. I mean, it had some good material on it, but overall it fell flat. As the title kinda implies, he went for a trendier, Trap inspired style, and it didn’t really resonate with me personally. I think this is gonna be one of the best albums of the year though, so I’m pretty excited. He was easily the best aspect of that incredibly disappointing Beast Coast album from last year, so he’s actually probably my favorite Pro Era member at the moment. Anyway, every single track here is produced by Statik Selektah.

1. Goin’ Thru featuring T’nah Apex

Right off the bat, the grandiose, jazzy production immediately had me hooked. At first, to me it seemed like the melodic hook from CJ was addressing the detour he took with his Flytrap project.
I ain’t doing what I’m s’posed to
People said, “We want the old you”
There’s so much I been going through
The first verse from CJ is really nice too. It’s a pretty personal, reflective track about the issues he’s been struggling with over the past few years.
Wanted to be numb so I could drown out my emotion
Used it as a means of coping, all the spirits I’m evoking
Realized that was the wrong thing, then I went back to weed smoking
Had a couple sips of codeine, I was never into cocaine
Not what I’m promotin’, I ain’t say be a drunk
Might have tried a couple things, but I ain’t say to do drugs
I was going through some shit and these just gave me a buzz
It’s too late for you to judge, what can I say? I was young
By the time the song was over, the hook clearly had a lot more to do with his personal life than his musical output. The fact that this beat was composed by just one person is really crazy to me. It sounds like an entire fuckin’ band recorded this shit. The vocals from T’nah are really nice, and her verse toward the end of the song was pretty solid. I really don’t have any gripes with this track at all; I think it’s a really great intro. This shit is dope as hell.

2. RUDEBWOY featuring Joey Bada$$

I believe this was the very first single that released for this album, but I didn’t actually hear it until months after it came out. Once again, Statik Selektah’s jazzy production here is fucking glorious. The first verse from CJ is fucking awesome; I love his flow here.
I’m in it to stack these chips, feel like Bruce Will’ in an action flick
Was givin’ me cash for nicks when me and my nigga was baggin’ piff
I’m realer than most, ain’t fuckin’ with those that give me they ass to kiss
I kill ’em and laugh at it like I’m a serial masochist
He kinda flubbed that last line since masochist doesn’t mean what he seems to think it means, but I’ll give him a pass since it actually fits the rhyme, unlike “sadist.” Joey Bada$$’s verse was really nice too. I don’t think any of the lyrics were particularly impressive, but his flow and delivery sounded really goddamn great. Even though this song isn’t super impressive from a lyrical standpoint, it’s still phenomenal to me just because of the production, flows, and overall energy. I think this shit is dope af.

3. Barrell featuring Haile Supreme

I literally said “God… DAMN” out loud as I was listening to this song when the beat dropped. Statik fucking Selektah is a beast, man. This beat is incredible. I really love the reflective lyricism from CJ about a rough interaction with the police while visiting his father’s home country of Jamaica.
Was in Jamaica and the Bab pulled up on us with K’s
My uncle had a licensed pistol, that’s why I was afraid
The gun was pointed at my mouth, ain’t wanna swallow a case
Was with my pops and I was nervous I’d get shot in my face
He saw me trembling, that’s when he said that I’d be okay
Was always tall so people thought I that I would lie ’bout my age
I was a yankee, they could see I was a foreign exchange
Looking back at it right now, that was a horrible day
This shit is fucking awesome, man. There’s only one verse from CJ on this track, but the song as a whole is still phenomenal just because everything is composed so well. His verse was great, and the dynamic production along with the gorgeous vocals from Haile Supreme are perfect. I think this is even better than the preceding track honestly. This shit is dope af.

4. Grew Up featuring Haile Supreme

This is probably the final single we’re gonna get before CJ Fly’s upcoming album releases on the 6th of March. That’s actually one of my most anticipated albums of the year though because every single that he’s dropped for it—including this new one—has been fire. Haile Supreme is an artist I became familiar with last year when he had a stellar feature on Bun B’s collaborative album with Statik Selektah. Statik’s production on this song is relatively dark and dramatic sounding. It’s dope as hell. The content from CJ Fly is somewhat autobiographical. He kinda described his life growing up, as the title suggests. He killed this shit. The hook from Haile is fire too. CJ is really proving himself to be one of the best artists out of Pro Era. I mean, he’s always been a standout MC from the group, but it seemed like this is on another level from what he typically does. I think this album’s gonna be special. I’m really looking forward to it. Don’t sleep on this shit. It’s fire.

5. Show You

Late last year, CJ Fly released a single with Conway the Machine called City We From, and I thought it was fucking superb. On Wednesday, we got an official confirmation that it’d appear on CJ Fly’s upcoming album, Rudebwoy, along with this new single. I guess I can officially add Rudebwoy to the list of my most anticipated 2020 releases. This shit is fire. CJ Fly & Statik Selektah are really a match made in heaven, so I’m glad he’s producing the whole album. I love the upbeat, kind of jazzy instrumental on this song. CJ rides it perfectly too. I love the hook, and his melodic & fast-paced flow during the verses sounds great. I love the autobiographical content too. Honestly, there’s really nothing I dislike about the song. CJ Fly is quickly becoming one of my favorite members of Pro Era. Well, I guess I’ve always considered him to be one of their more top tier members, along with Dessy Hinds, Joey Bada$$ & of course Capital STEEZ. The title track for Rudebwoy was apparently released back in September, but it somehow slipped under my radar until this week. However, I’m happy to report that it’s just as good, if not better than the other two singles. I can’t wait for the album. It’s dropping on March 6th, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

6. I Tried featuring OSHUN

Once again, the production from Statik here is absolutely heavenly. I love how somber and melodic this one is. CJ’s singing on this hook is shockingly good too. Even his vocals on the first verse sound way better than I would’ve ever expected. I love the sad lyricism too.
Know you probably hate me now
Ain’t been said, but I could tell
I could see you ain’t been well
Actin’ out, you ain’t yourself
Drinking more, that ain’t gon’ help
That ain’t too good for your health
Played with the hands I was dealt
Couldn’t fight how I had felt
Thandi’s vocals on the hook sound great, and I loved the rapping from Niambi too. Bruh, why is this shit so good? Songs about relationship struggles like this typically don’t resonate with me, but this is so well done. CJ employed a very subtle and tasteful autotune effect for his vocals on the outro. This is yet another stellar song. The only slight gripe I can think of is that I wish CJ Fly had a bit more of a presence here instead of letting OSHUN take over. It would’ve been cool if he actually rapped on one of the verses, but that’s just a nitpick. This shit is dope hell.

7. Block Party featuring Kirk Knight

Believe it or not, this beat actually reminded me of 2Pac. This sounds like something he’d fit over perfectly. It kinda gives off the same undertones as Old School off of Me Against the World in my opinion. The title of this track pretty much tells you exactly what it’s gonna be about. It just sounds like a great time in the form of a song. It makes me think of a barbecue and a bunch of my dad’s old black friends getting drunk and eating red meat. That’s not a particularly good memory for me, but it is what it is. I still really like the song.
We ain’t worried ’bout our feuds
More concerned ’bout our food
Corn’s on the grill, hot dogs, and the barbecue
Mindin’ our own business, everybody vibin’
Got drunk off a nutcracker when I first tried it
All the girls in sundresses ’cause the sun shinin’
Kids are playing in the water from the fire hydrant
The first verse is great, and the horns that come in during the hook sound glorious. Obviously the content is very celebratory and wholesome, but there are some super morbid themes hidden under the surface. The darkness comes from what they imply life is typically like when the block party isn’t actually happening.
Fuck 12, but today, we don’t want no stress
The kids outside, we don’t wanna see no corpses
Barbecue pits mixed with rastaman spliffs
And we parking lot pimp with our neighborhood blick
Kirk Knight’s verse was great. They keep mentioning the police, basically saying “the police are tryna murder and enslave us, but it’s okay because we’re having fun right now at this party.” It’s pretty fucked up stuff, but the song itself is really great. It’s not one of my favorites on the album, but I don’t have any real issues with it. This shit is dope as hell.

8. City We From featuring Conway the Machine

This was the first single that I heard from this album, and it blew me away. I think this shit is amazing. Obviously I’m scrambling to listen to anything Conway’s involved in, and this didn’t disappoint at all. The production from Statik is still very jazzy, but it has a darker edge to it than most of the other beats. Conway murdered that first verse too.
Shoot first, I don’t talk much
Fuck a drive-by, my shooters doing walk-ups
Plastic scalpel from the infirmary leave you scarred up
Leave that pussy nigga in the yard with his jaw cut
I love it. I don’t typically expect this kinda hard shit from CJ, but his verse was gangsta as hell too.
Couldn’t be a loan when they was givin’ buck fifties
Tucked blicky ready just in case someone would fuck with me
Luckily they was judging me just by my company
Crush sticky, gotta keep the grip, you can’t be caught slippin’
I think his voice has a nice contrast to that of Conway too. This is yet another phenomenal song, and by the time this track was over I was pretty certain that this was gonna end up as my album of the year. This shit is dope af.

9. Jooks

As the title implies, this song is all about committing robberies. His vocal delivery seemed really familiar as soon as he started rapping, and at first Xzibit came to mind, but I eventually realized that it was much closer to DMX. It’s actually uncanny to be honest; he sounds almost exactly like him to me on this song. Even the flow sounds very similar. The entire song is just one verse, so it’s much more straightforward than pretty much every other song in terms of structure. The storytelling here is great though.
Spotted my prey, then I crept up on ’em like a ninja
Put my hoodie on my head and my index on the trigger
Left my hood for all my missions, couldn’t rob my fellow nigga
I’m Fly, but no angel, never gon’ be pointin’ fingers
Said, “Shut the fuck up, if you scream I’ma shoot
I don’t wanna have to hurt you, all I need is the loot”
Tried to reach for his wallet, I ain’t tell you to move
Pistol whipped him, bust his lip, then made him bleed from his tooth
This shit is hard as hell. The production somehow feels like it matches the content very well too. It sounds like a soundtrack to a stealth mission of a video game. I love how cold blooded the lyricism from CJ is here too.
He gave me everything he had and then I let him go
I said, “I saw your address so if you tell a soul
One shot from the .38 gon’ make your head explode
In the back of your melon, where you’ll see the exit hole”
Just a game of chess and you were my pawn
I did the right wrongs just to keep the lights on
Did .211s as a freshmen, now I write songs
Learned about computers, never thought I’d be an icon
The song is dope as hell to me.

10. LV Ascot

This song has another phenomenal beat; I wanna say it’s one of my favorites, but there are so many amazing instrumentals here, so I don’t know if I’m ready to make that decision yet. This shit is fire though. I love the opening verse here. Once again, the content is harder and darker.
Sad part is, we was never bad kids
My nigga ████ shot up the park, got twenty-five years
Used to kick it at my crib, I haven’t spoken to him since
We ain’t ever get to link, I ain’t forget you, hope you’d hear this
I realize in life we all gon’ take our own path
And if you ever wanna talk, I got my old math
We were just kids then and now we grown men
I was going through depression, I thought that I was goin’ mad
I really like the hook on this track too. The second verse is even better than the first. I love the way he was flowing, and the writing is great.
I grew up in the ghetto, you’ll be lucky if you get out
Snitches sing like a falsetto, veterans wear chains like medals
Didn’t discover the genre when I first found heavy metal
And I knew it wasn’t my toy, as a kid, fucked up my mental
Just imagine dodging death and life on multiple occasions
I done made it out unscathed while in some fucked up situations
It feel like we all competing to our own elimination
We don’t see how this ain’t positive and cause our limitations
I haven’t chosen a favorite song yet, and I really don’t know how I’m gonna do that because this is yet another superb track. I fucking love this shit, man. It’s dope af.

11. Strugglin’

This song has another gorgeous, super detailed instrumental. The melodic hook on this track is pretty nice too. The biographical lyricism about CJ’s father is really cool.
Only right he’d get in where he fit in
He knew to change his surroundings when he didn’t
Saw what they was getting and that’s when he started dealing
He was riding on a high horse, really thought they wouldn’t get him
Was told that he could make more money out in Maryland
Him and his partner was so desperate they tried anything
Ain’t never left the state they did a little traveling, got settled in
Didn’t know his custys started babbling
The second verse is even better than the first one in my opinion. It’s kinda wholesome and sweet because you can tell how much love and respect he has for his father.
Ironic I’m his junior, all the chronic I was moving
Extra cash we could have used it, didn’t last ’cause I was stupid
To make it in America, you have to gain knowledge
He made it his priority to graduate college
Got his degree and started teaching for a bit
His old friends couldn’t get down with the fact he had gone legit
I’m just glad he made that switch to ensure he won’t go back in
They could never talk no shit, that’s because he ain’t never snitched
I will say that this isn’t one of my favorites on the album, but that’s not saying much because this shit is still fire. I don’t have any real issues with the song. I think this is dope as hell.

12. Hard Times featuring Lexipaz

I have no idea who Lexipaz is, but her name looks like the name of an Rx medication. Once again, the jazzy, sentimental production from Statik Selektah is superb. The melodic hook from CJ Fly is pretty solid, and the background vocals from Lexipaz sound good. I really love the first verse on this track. The production along with the reflective and emotional content is a perfect match.
I noticed by my choices
Feeling like I might be on the brink of psychosis
Hit my plug just to recharge, to get some high voltage
Smoke my problems all away, that’s just what my approach is
I’m on the verge, I don’t wanna work
Irritated if somebody say another word
Aggravated, everybody getting on my nerves
Being treated like a peasant when you know your worth
The lyrics in the hook are nice too.
I hate to see you with a frown on your face
Guess they been giving you a hard time
The second verse is pretty good as well. At first I had a feeling this would be one of the weaker tracks on the album, but the emotional lyricism really made this one stand out for me. I love this track. I think it’s dope as hell.

13. The Pros featuring T’nah Apex, Chuck Strangers, Dessy Hinds, Dirty Sanchez, Rokamouth & Nyck Caution

This track excited me when I saw it in the track listing because I feel like the Progressive Era hasn’t really moved as a unit in years. It seems like Joey Bada$$, Kirk Knight, and CJ Fly himself are the only members of the crew that ever get any attention. I guess Nyck Caution would probably have a bigger buzz if he released more material. I think I saw some people talking about Aaron Rose recently too. I haven’t heard from Rokamouth in years though, and I actually didn’t even know he was still part of the crew. I found out a few days ago that Dirty Sanchez has released an album every year since 2018, and that’s including THIS year. Pro Era really needs to do a better job of promoting their artists. Chuck Strangers dropped a pretty slept on album recently too; I think that was in 2018. Anyway, this song is fucking awesome. The production is perfect. I really liked the fast paced opening verse from CJ, and the way Chuck came in right behind him was awesome. His verse wasn’t amazing lyrically, but I like his voice a lot; his delivery sounded really good over this beat. It was great to hear from Dessy Hinds again. He’s always been one of my favorite members of the crew, but as far as I know he still hasn’t dropped a full length project yet. He has a really weird voice, so that’s a big part of why I like him. I also think he’s one of the better rappers in the crew too though. Dirty Sanchez probably had my least favorite verse, but he still did his thing. I’m fairly certain that I’ve heard less than five verses from Rokamouth in my life, so it was like listening to a completely new artist, but he did a pretty great job. His flow was really dope. Nyck Caution of course had a really nice performance, and the closing vocals from T’nah Apex were a nice touch. Overall, this almost sounds like a bonus track, or what would be playing as the credits roll at the end of the album. I think it’s really goddamn great though. The song is dope as hell.

This is the best album I’ve heard this year. I think this shit is amazing. Every single song here is fantastic. This is quintessential Pro Era music. It’s easily the best album CJ Fly has ever made, and one of the best albums by a Pro Era artist period. I don’t have any consistent issues with it at all. Statik Selektah put his fucking ass into this project, man. This is easily one of the best produced albums I’ve heard this year. Him and The Jefferson Park Boys are definitely the top contenders for producer of the year right now. I think this is the most focused, well groomed project CJ Fly could’ve possibly made. It really defines him as an artist too. This would be a perfect starting point for any new listeners who want to get to know him as an artist. I love the way he incorporated the Caribbean influences too. It always sounds corny and gimmicky when someone like Drake does it, but since those are actually CJ’s roots it works perfectly here. A Damien Marley collab would be awesome. I will say that in general I enjoyed the first half a bit more than the second one, but overall this this is damn near flawless. Obviously since he’s a Pro Era artist you pretty much know what to expect; it’s very traditional Hip Hop. It’s just done incredibly well. The production is wonderful, and CJ’s songwriting capabilities are better than they’ve ever been. Do not overlook this album. It’s dope af.

SCORE: 95 (A)