My opinion on Rome Streetz hasn’t really changed since last year’s “KISS THE RING”. The dude’s a dope rapper but his style and delivery are decidedly one-note. It doesn’t really stand out, and I think it’s because his serious approach is played completely straight. Benny the Butcher sprinkles in humor and wit to ensure his narrative isn’t simply street commentary; Westside delivers his wild lifestyle so vividly it borders on caricature; Conway has an effortless menace and is probably the best emcee of the crew. 38 Spesh balances being the most vicious lyricist with the most hilariously outlandish in a way so few can pull off. I’m not sure Rome has found the unique trait that truly separates him from the crowd, but you get glimpses of it on his latest album, “Wasn’t Built in a Day”, produced by the underrated Big Ghost Ltd.

Like a lot of Big Ghost Ltd projects, production plods but never drags its feet like some Griselda output can. I really enjoyed “VAN GHOST” and “Heavy is the Head”, but it wasn’t just the crazy beats – ANKHLEJOHN and Ransom are two memorable emcees: the former just grabs the listener by the throat, the latter is a razor-sharp wordsmith. Rome Streetz continues to frustrate me, and it might just be that his style simply isn’t my cup of tea, but let’s break down why that may be.

Deriding commercial hip-hop feels played out at this point, but “Wasn’t Built in a Day” can’t hide its infatuation with the 1990s. “Gem Drop” doesn’t hide its Mobb Deep admiration, but Ghost flips it into even darker territory. Whereas Hav’ and P had the listener in the palm of their hands throughout a record like “Drop a Gem on ‘Em”, I found Rome’s rhymes more transactional as they went in one ear, and out the other. This is exemplified further by Method Man’s appearance on “P’z n Q’z”, one of hip-hop’s greatest emcees riding arguably the toughest instrumental on the whole project. 

The skits included at the end of some songs with Lukey Cage attempt to flesh out the Rome Streetz persona, to provide a bit more personality and I wouldn’t have minded more because it’s my primary issue with his previous material. At the end of the Conway collaboration “Suicide”, we see some bitterness seep through, counteracting the pride located elsewhere at completing a successful European tour last year. In fact, the two “skits” make no sense whatsoever, comparing a good verse to a well-done steak (the worst way to eat steak!) and a lack of diversity in commercial hip-hop to picking Ken and Ryu in Street Fighter. A European tour has clearly added to Rome’s outlook on life, with mentions of Liverpool on “Lobsters in Shoreditch” and British darts legend Phil Taylor on “Gem Drop”. It’s these colorful references that bring some life to the rhymes, but ultimately, Big Ghost shines brightest. The one-two punch of “Dope Stampz” and “Majisty” steps in at just the right time; if you’re a sucker for a scratched hook and hard drums, Big Ghost has got you. I will commend Rome for utilizing his voice differently on “Majisty”, it’s as if he sounds more alive, and his hook feels like something out of Westside Gunn’s playbook.

Big Ghost ensures this album is more than generic street rap, but Rome Streetz continues to show small signs of growth. There are not many interesting themes or lines that keep me returning, but with each record that releases we see a bit more of a personality start to appear. It’s just all much of a muchness. The played-out references and inward outlook feel ignorant rather than celebratory (rappers still throwing jabs at Drake in 2023?), but Big Ghost offers up enough heat to mask these shortcomings. I remain split on Rome Streetz as an artist, as he demonstrates the conviction in his raps, but it never captivates like his peers. He can clearly rap at a high level, but it’s often a bunch of bars and beats. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and despite providing well-constructed verses, Rome Streetz still needs more work to meet his full potential.

Big Ghost Ltd & Rome Streetz :: Wasn't Built In A Day 
7Overall Score