#soundcheck download brooklyn rapper ripmc’s debut concept album: playboy

October 10, 2012

For a medium that’s all about storytelling, it’s always been strange how few bonafide hip-hop concept albums there really are. Sure, tons of MCs have donned alternate personas and pseudonyms for a track or two. But it’s rare for an artist to craft an album-length storyline with a beginning, middle, and end. (The Trapped In The Closet saga doesn’t count because it’s more of an absurdist meta art project. I hope.) So it’s almost audacious that Brooklyn rapper RIPMC’s debut full length tells a single half hour story.

Playboy tells the story of a young man who seeks (and finds) a life of luxury and excess. An aspiring lothario, RIPMC’s Playboy accidentally falls in love with one of his conquests, only to end up alone. The Playboy ends diving back into self-destructive cycles despite the self-awareness that these one night stands only make him more alone. The record jumps between so-called Luxury Rap and more introspective faire. Some tracks—particularly the title track—come off out of context like the millions of “everyone wants to fuck me or be me” boasts that dominate the mainstream. But following the heartbreaking “Alone,” the track “Playboy” is actually devastating. This is a hollow shell of a man; his cocky exterior just barely masking the emptiness within. Context is everything.
It raises the question (but not “begs the question because” that’s not what that phrase means. Grumble grumble rant.): is this Biggie or Puffy? Is the titular Playboy a tragic character? A hip-hop Midas, doomed to be alone forever while surrounded by everything he could ever want? Or is he little more than a juvenile hetero male fantasy? Is this a cautionary tale or a glorification of excess? And either way, does it matter when the lyrics are this smart and the production is this tight?

– Words by Nathan Leigh