For the last decade-plus, Houston-bred Z-Ro has exemplified the work ethic and musical output that has become synonymous with a certain class of Southern spitters. Since the turn of the century, the tune-carrying rapper has released more than a dozen albums and a similar number of mixtapes, cementing himself as a stalwart in H-Town music but rarely transcending the oft-self-contained city’s scene to earn national recognition. Now, a little more than a year after dropping his last album, the Rap-a-Lot representer returns with Meth.
The fourth in a series of drug-titled albums (following Crack, Cocaine and Heroin the last three years), Meth is an addictive dose of Z-Ro’s diverse skill-set. Kicking off wth the album’s opener, “Real or Fake,” he effortlessly flips the switch from rapping to singing and back on a dime—and both the rhymes and harmonies prove essential. To compliment this, Ro’s voice is gloomy but his raps not particularly melancholy, creating a distinct contrast.
Offering a tray of tracks on an array of topics, Z-Ro hits on hometown love (“H-Town Kinda”), individualistic resolve (“Happy Alone”), female excursions (“Pig Feet”), and street life (“Ro and Bun”). The Houston mold is advanced though unbroken, still ripe with references to corner hustles and Purple Sprite. A few friends are in tow, as well, including Bun B, Slim Thug and Yo Gotti, each supporting with stellar showings.
With Meth, Z-Ro again proves his status under the radar is undeserved, as he serves up a high that should last a while. —Adam Fleischer