Ray Cash

Cash on Delivery

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Despite his look, Ray Cash is neither Ludacris' younger brother nor an accountant. The bespectacled MC from Cleveland sticks out his neck as the new representative for a city that hasn't produced a considerable amount of hip-hop talent. (There's Bone, and then there's...crickets.) He knows his history as well as the Game, if not more so, and he demonstrates this in a way that isn't nearly as gimmicky. In fact, it's evident that he has absorbed rap music from the East, to the West, to the South (especially), as well as all points in-between, and is already fully formed as a distinct personality with skill to spare. On the Rick Rock-produced "Bumpin' My Music," which bumps as much as anything that has come from the South during the past few years, Cash demonstrates some of the qualities that make him so remarkable. With a delivery as smooth and studied as that of T.I., he name-checks a number of his inspirations without sounding particularly indebted to any one of them -- ironically, Scarface guests and is a lot more direct in his references. "Dope Game" is his "Rubberband Man," an unapologetic dope-seller anthem produced by the up-and-coming two-headed Kickdrums (also from Cleveland), while the following "Better Way" (featuring Beanie Sigel) flips the feeling completely, addressing single mothers, jailed fathers, and slain sons. "F*** Amerikkka" is as sharp and vicious as anything dropped by Ice Cube or Paris: "You travel space, other planets, lookin' for Martians/Kids in your own f*ckin' cities is starvin'/And sendin' money to feed people in the Third World country/Motherf*ckers sleepin' on the street, dirty and hungry." If T.I. is the Jay-Z of the South, Ray Cash is the T.I. of the Midwest. Cash alludes to this title in "P.A.N." while denouncing bubblegum rap and claiming to have the game wrapped. Another indication that Cash has some nerve is that he was badmouthing his label before this album's release, declaring that it doesn't know what to do with him. There's no denying that the rest of his career (and it ought to be a lengthy one) should be well worth watching.

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