Some days I imagine the epitaph on my tombstone will read “Here lies Flash. He spent his life listening to rap albums that only four other people heard.” Now that’s probably an exaggeration when it comes to Rhyme Recka’s “The Autobiography of Rapper X” — he’s a third tier Wu-Tang Clan affiliate so I’m sure at least a few hundred people heard it. None of those people can agree on how his name is spelled though. Sometimes it’s “Rhymerecka” with no space in between. Sometimes it’s “Rhyme Recca” with two C’s and no K. Even his own Wu affiliates can’t make up their mind on this one. Here’s the only thing you really need to know — he’s from the American Cream Team, a crew best known for their ties to Raekwon the Chef, and many of the members of the Team either died (RIP Chip Banks) or got locked down. Their biggest claim to fame was the song “It’s Not a Game” off the Black and White soundtrack. Rae and RZA joined in on that one.
Recka is the rapper whose verse starts “World premier, Metal Gear,” spitting bars sandwiched between the aforementioned Chip Banks and RZA. To be honest that’s how I thought of Recka whenever I thought of him at all — the rapper who spit verses surrounded by other people. He didn’t seem to have a whole lot of personality of his own. I went into “The Autobiography of Rapper X” hoping to have my mind changed. After all the album’s title references a famous autobiography about an even more famous person whose words and actions changed the world. I was hoping for an equally ambitious album and instead found a rapper who solemnly and lethargically declares “shit ain’t change motherfuckah” on “Killa.” He sure likes the word “motherfuckah” a lot.
Now I know I was poking a bit of fun at myself in the opening paragraph, but when I saw that “Killa” only had 77 views in NINE YEARS since being uploaded to YouTube, I started to think I might actually be right. I respect the ambition that Rhyme Recka had to record a solo album, knowing damn well that there was the possibility of diminishing returns here. If 10% of the entire music buying public bought Wu-Tang Clan albums, they went platinum. If half of those people bought the solo albums, they went gold. If even 10% of those people bought the spinoff projects they’d do 50,000 units. In 2023 moving 50,000 units of a physical album would be impressive. In 2008 that wouldn’t have been a great number. In fact to make matters worse it appears this album was only released as a CDr, which means it was recorded one disc at a time and sold directly through the artist or label’s website. This was never mastered and pressed for large scale retail distribution.
Listening to songs like “Kingpin” (33 views on YouTube as of this writing) I can’t imagine any reason why it would be. Sha Nobles is not a big enough guest star on the hook to hook anyone. In fact I looked up a list of Wu-Tang affiliates and his name didn’t even show up. The beat sounds like the kind of thing an aspiring rapper would cook up in a home studio and put on the demo disc they mail out and hand out to anyone who will listen. It’s not “terrible” but it’s the very definition of mediocre. The music and the lyrics are both unremarkable. Rhyme Recka tells an entirely unoriginal tale of criminal ways and means then adds “learn from they mistakes — this shit could happen to you — and that’s real talk.” Well it happened to his Cream Team fam so he’s not entirely wrong.
Method Man famously introduced the rap world to the concept of “P.L.O. style,” and since then a slew of rappers have referenced the never-ending conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. “Gaza Strip” doesn’t. He simply uses it to reference how hot his OWN block is, comparing it to a place where bullets fly and young men die, but he never rises above that to offer any geopolitical thoughts. “Stick up kids scheming on everything you got.” I would have been more interested in Rhyme Recka’s album if he truly was a “Rapper X” for Palestine, pledging his allegiance to a two state solution that would bring peace to the Middle East, but that’s far above the level he’s on. “It’s On” betrays what he’s about — rapping to get famous and live extravagant. He’s not political at all.
I struggled to maintain my interest in “The Autobiography of Rapper X” long enough to finish this review. His technical competence as a rapper is not the problem. He doesn’t stumble over his words, gasp for air trying to spit bars, or lose the plot when penning his street poetry. It’s not that he’s a bad rapper — it’s just that he’s bad at being an interesting rapper. His voice is not super charismatic, his delivery doesn’t inspire imitation, and his words are recycled from a dozen similar artists whether they are third tier Wu-Tang cousins or not. I’m sorry to say Rhyme Recka was better off as a member of a group, because he doesn’t stand out enough to merit being a solo artist.