It took me a little while to figure out who Ramirez was. Although I found a Fandom page for the rapper quickly enough, I didn’t want to treat that as an authoritative source, because that’s essentially a “wiki” style website anyone can create or edit at any time. Things became a little clearer when I found out his friends are the $uicideboy$ and that he’s possibly a part owner of their G*59 Records label. While the latter factoid is unconfirmed his name is listed on their artist roster, stylized as RVIMRXZ, which he seems to use interchangeably with the spelling found on “The Grey Gorilla.” Either way if you follow all the links they lead you to his YouTube channel, which for me lead full circle back to the album I’m listening to now.

Another of their mutual friends/label associates is Shakewell, who you can see in the music video for “Be a Witness” off the album. My familiarity with Ramirez’ associates is more pronounced than with him or his album, though I can’t say it’s for the best of reasons. That’s not why I’ve not been reviewing the $uicideboy$ up until now though — it’s mostly because I can’t decide if they are punk rock, nu metal, hip-hop, or some combination of all of the above. Ramirez seems to be a full fledged rapper and he distinguishes himself from other rappers of the so-called “Soundcloud generation” by actually rapping his bars most of the time instead of singing (there are exceptions). He also has respect for the pioneers who came before him as heard on “UGK Gorilla Pimp.”

If there was any doubt on “The Grey Gorilla” about his affiliations it’s all spelled out for you on the album’s cover — the Boy$, Shakewell, Fat Nick and Mikey the Magician are all listed as guest stars. While other members of the collective have had unsavory accusations lobbed their way, I really can’t find anything negative about Ramirez, and quite frankly that’s a relief in the present day. The unfortunate fact about the internet and/or social media is that we often know too much about the people we listen to. I’m not sitting here arguing we should go back to the days we got all our rap information from The Source (they had their own issues with editorial interference and regional bias) but at least we didn’t have a cell phone camera in every artist’s face trying to catch them at their worst saying or doing bad. Maybe we could back off and give people room to breathe.

That’s not to say Ramirez is a bastion of positivity though. “You don’t really want a problem with a G like me” vows the rapper on “Na Na Na Na Na,” featuring a hook just as elementary school as the song’s title implies. I think that might be why it’s charming though? The silliness helps to offset otherwise grim lyrics like “working ’til the break of dawn, gotta get my hustle on/pimping bitches and counting digits, the muscle moving strong — hoe.” Even though Ramirez vows to put a pistol to the face of anybody in his way, the song still manages to be playful and have a pleasant bass bump. I didn’t expect to like songs like this or “40z and Shorties” as much as I did. It feels like some Texas fried Screwed Up Click shit even though R is from San Francisco. Rocking the same sample Shawn Carter did on “Ignorant Shit” doesn’t hurt either.

What’s my conclusion about “The Grey Gorilla” then? Well I have to be fair and say it’s over a half decade old, so a more recent Ramirez album might give me a much better picture of the artist, but I didn’t walk away thinking “it’s more mumble mouth bullshit” either. The bar for emcees has been lowered since my teens, but he still easily hurdles over it and I have no doubt he can go much higher. Thanks to the posse he’s rolling with on this one the production is polished and the guest stars don’t detract from it. My only concern is that if he sticks to the same topics on every album it might get stale over time hearing the same gangster rap tropes. At 28 minutes long “The Grey Gorilla” doesn’t wear out its welcome.

Ramirez :: The Grey Gorilla
7Overall Score