RJ exploded on the scene with some powerful mixtapes that seemed to hint at a new L.A. rapper to pick up the gangsta mantle. When NWA put Compton on the map, hip hop was a burgeoning genre where rappers mostly boasted about their own intelligence, called themselves “teachers,” and viewed ghetto life as something that made them victims–something to be overcome. Ice Cube took what Public Enemy hinted at (but they fired Professor Griff) and brought it to the next level: Violence. From there, rap changed quickly, moving through the G-Funk era and the Snoops and Warren Gs up to The Game, who is my personal favorite rapper in the Southern Cali Gangsta mode.

So I had high hopes for RJmrLA’s debut–because, frankly, since The Game, nobody has come close to the level of excitement, fiery smarts and witty rage of guys like Game and Cube.

The good news is, the album emphasizes flow and mood–it’s well produced and RJ’s delivery is spot on.

The bad news: It’s 20 songs long. There’s a really good 12-song record here, but not a really good 20-song record.

Still, there’s enough here to make this a solid buy. Best cuts: On God, Growing, Numb to My Feelings (w/The Game), Apartment, Money Goals and Bang My Line w/O.T. Genesis.

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