Live Life Fast is an anonymous bore of an album that rides of a wave of unearned ego.
Roddy Ricch clearly thought he was in the big leagues — and why wouldn’t he? A little over two years ago, he had your favorite pop stars on the rope and begging for mercy. “The Box” dominated the Billboard charts for eleven weeks, blocking the likes of both Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez from the coveted number one position. It’s the type of hit that comes once in a lifetime for some artists, usually the perfect storm of being released at the right place during the right time, and with the right platform in mind; in other words, in this specific instance, it was a TikTok song that mainly got big because of online memes and a viral “eee-err” ad-lib fueling its long run at the top. But instead of using this goodwill to his advantage, or getting smart to his current situation, Roddy got bigheaded and thought he had the fanbase and talent to go silent for over a year. No singles, no promotion, nothing; he announced the release date for Live Life Fast a few days beforehand, believing the hype would naturally emerge. The dude worked with Kanye once and now truly believes he’s the new Ye. But how much excitement could ever really be drawn up for an act like Roddy? It’s a question that’s difficult to accurately gauge, as he’s had success before and continues to show promise, even as his music remains characteristically anonymous. If we were to take a vague guess, at least from the music here: not much.
So let’s ask another question: Beyond the hits, what else is there to Roddy Ricch? He has a great singing voice, but so does about every other popular rapper nowadays; you need something a little more than technical ability to draw attention the first time around, and whatever “it” is, it needs to be defined, crystalized, and improved upon by album number two. Well, it turns out he doesn’t have “it” in him anymore when it comes to making interesting music; he also doesn’t have a solid pen game this time around (most unintentionally hilarious line: “If I got the time, fuck her like a menace / Open up her tonsils like she at the dentist”) or much creativity either. The flows, tempos, and production decisions on Live Life Fast are all safe, predictable choices you’ve heard rehashed on any number of mainstream hip-hop releases from the past 12 months: you’ve got a substandard collection of slow jams (“rollercoastin” and “crash the party”) mixed with one-dimensional bangers (“25 million” and the poorly mixed “hibachi”) and whatever happens to be the flavor of the month at the time of release — in this instance, it’s Brooklyn drill (“murda one”) when a year ago it would have been a hazy, Travis Scott-inspired rager with a Quavo/Young Thug hook. There’s a semi-listenable melody at the heart of “thailand,” but it’s buried under lame one-liners and an unnecessary beat switch-up that’s trying way too hard to convince you of the track’s prestige. Roddy’s music has always lacked a defined personality, opting instead to remain stylistically incognito compared with his contemporaries; here, it only aims to please everyone, and ends up achieving zilch in the process. Maybe Roddy’s forever worried his flashy, ice-cold veneer might be exposed as lame posturing by doing anything different; if that’s so, then he’s mistaking mystery with ambiguity, thinking he’s being elusive when he’s simply just being a bore.
Published as part of Album Roundup — December 2021.