Even though his Scarface-assisted single “Bumpin’ My Music” terrorized more than a few boomin’ systems this year, Ray Cash’s debut, Cash on Delivery, failed to make any real commercial impact. Looking to recover from what’s adding up to be a freshman flop, the Cleveland native teams up with local producers the Kickdrums and DJ Joey Fingaz for his first street album, Clangin and Swangin.
With his patented soulful, bottom-heavy Cleveland sound in tow, Ray’s mix picks up right where C.O.D. left off. On “Hello Land,” Cash borrows the horns from Jeezy’s “Go Crazy” to triumphantly state, “As long as I’m breathing, long as my arms is reaching/I’ma take Cleveland all the way/There, yeah, we in here/We ain’t going nowhere, middle fingers to the air.” Then the Kickdrums infuse Wu-Tang’s “C.R.E.A.M.” with some Midwest swang on “Cash Rules,” a ubiquitous ode to the power of a dollar. The heat wave doesn’t end there. “In the Hood” finds Ray pledging allegiance to the trap, and on “Spanglish,” he convincingly kicks poems about the G-Code over a midtempo bump.
Cash’s stride falters only when Clangin and Swangin gets formulaic. “Hustle Up,” with its chopped-and-screwed hook and trendy finger-snappin’ rhythm, is hardly captivating. The same can be said of “It’s Ray,” which finds the Ohioan back in the trap, but his long drawn-out drawl doesn’t really mesh with the Susan Vega–sampled track. Fortunately, he redeems himself on the standout cut “Touch the Sky,” a head nod–inducing narrative that highlights Ray’s nimble lyrical sport.
Save for a few soft spots, Clangin and Swangin is a profound statement to the streets. With help from the Kickdrums, who custom fit Ray with all the soul he needs, the slept-on lyricist is sure to have fans bumpin’ his music, with or without a major label push.—PAUL CANTOR
Read the rest of XXL’s Critical Beatdown review section in the
December 2006 issue (#87)