DICKswansonCOVER.jpgSince the release of his 1998 debut, Time Waits for No Man, Rasco has been regarded as one of the West Coast’s most respected lyricists. Possessing a battle-ready flow and commanding voice, he released a string of independent EPs and compilations, as well as two collaborative projects with Planet Asia as the duo Cali Agents. Now the Golden State warrior looks to continue his impressive track record of ripping mics with his third solo effort, The Dick Swanson Theory, Part 1.

Rasco’s mission gets off to a good start with the Ras Kass–assisted “Making the Rounds,” where the two lyrical juggernauts trade hefty bars. Similar passion is displayed on the Willie Evans Jr.–produced “No Love,” on which the Cali vet shakes the haters off over thumpin’ drums and a soulful vocal sample. Then on the haunting “World’s Collide,” Rasco adds some social commentary to the lyrical gymnastics, spitting, “Now they got young brothers out waving things/ Glocks and techs/What about stocks and checks?/Got crime on the rise they ain’t stopped it yet/We not the threat/Still never got respect.”

Rasco’s skills on the mic have never been in question, but his ability to pen memorable hooks have. Both the Planet Asia collabo “BackDown” and the San Quinn–featured “San Francisco Giants” show Rasco’s deficiency for writing choruses as potent as his verses. Another flaw here is the Oh No–produced “Chances,” which is supposed to be a touching love song, but Rasco sounds more prepared to spit in a cipher than to spit game. Therein lies the album’s biggest fault.

Rasco doesn’t offer much in terms of variety with this disc, as he rarely diverges from his patented rapid-fire flow. Save for a few high-octane cuts like “Situations” and “This Is How It Goes Down” featuring Souls of Mischief’s Opio, the album maintains a gruff tone throughout. Although Dick Swanson is another solid addition to the Rasco catalog, it’s missing a knockout punch that’ll make this more than just an average collection.—SOREN BAKER