I don’t know what Ron Browz has done since 2016. Maybe he just cashed in all his chips and retired to somewhere comfortable. If so more power to the self-styled Ether Boy. Why did Ron call himself that though? Because the single song people remember him best for is the Jay-Z diss track he produced for Nas called “Ether.” No matter which side of the war you thought won there’s no doubt Ron hooked Nas up with a banger.

Now if you’ve been reading me for a while you know I’m ambivalent about producers who rap. There are a few who do it at a high level, a lot who are better behind the boards than on the mic, and some who shouldn’t have come near it even as a joke. It seems though that if you spend enough time making tracks for people who get all the limelight and attention, you’re going to want the fame and not just the fortune from lacing other people. It’s natural and understandable. Perhaps it’s even inevitable. The good news about “Etherlibrium” is that Ron Browz has a lot of friends who he can turn to for guest bars to support his album. In fact instead of including the original version of “What Up Bro” on this album, he did a remix with Red Cafe. Good call.

Now for the bad news — this is the best song on “Etherlibrium” and at the time of publication it had less than 500 views on YouTube. Maybe the aggregate number of streams when Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple et cetera are factored in the totals are much higher. I poked around the entire album on the one place I could get data from and everything was at this level or lower, and I’m going to say that’s not by accident. I don’t know how gassed on his on ether he had to be to think tracks like “In a Zone” were a good idea. Not only is this not a beat he should give to any rapper let alone himself, the flow is stilted and the lyrics are laughably bad.

“Girl’s tummy tucked, your chain tucked
I’m in the new Coupe, you in the same truck
you probably pawned/you a lame duck
You don’t get it? You a lame fuck”

This could be the best argument for why old rap songs/albums aren’t necessarily better. This wouldn’t be a good song in any generation, and it doesn’t merit even the couple of hundred views it had before publication. It hurts my ears so much it makes me question if it’s really from the same man who did “Ether” let alone songs like Luda’s “Blow It Out” or 50 Cent’s “I’ll Whip Ya Head Boy.” This can’t be the same dude. Like the view totals though the low effort lyrics are consistent across the board. Every now and then something like “Harlem Put Your Hands Up” sounds like it could be a banger, but Browz as a rapper is a low rent Fabulous mashed with a drugged out Joe Budden. You can’t listen to him flow for more than a minute without thinking he got his whole style from the people he worked with and doesn’t have any of his own.

By the end of the album he’s run out of beats, ideas and guest stars. That results in absolute trainwrecks like “EtherBoy All Stars.” It’s one of the worst attempts to loop “Also Sprach Zarathustra” imaginable, made even worse by how obvious it is when paired with drums that sound like someone slapping a stack of papers with a ruler. I’m absolutely dumbfounded by this track and I feel bad for Pretty Boy Maloy, M5 and Mone that they wound up being the “All Stars” on it.

I kept trying to look for reasons to excuse how awful “Etherlibrium” is and couldn’t do it. The evidence is everywhere you look. Ron Browz produced every track and appears on every one. That means he absolutely has to own low effort garbage like “Wanna Be You” and “Winded.” Both seem like accidental admissions — he wishes he was one of the rappers he works with, but doesn’t have the breath control they do. “Winded” even sounds like what Nas’ “Ether” would be if you took everything that made it a good song out. It’s production in reverse. In interviews Ron told people that he “owe(d) the fans” this debut album when a previous project named “Etherboy” was shelved. After hearing this though I’m reminded of when O’Shea Jackson said “Aiyyo Dre! Stick to producing!” Dre did what Browz couldn’t though — better beats, better rhymes & better delivery. He could have had ghostwriters do for him what they did for Dre, but with the phoned in beats of “Etherlibrium” it still would have sucked regardless.

Ron Browz :: Etherlibrium
3Overall Score