Mixtape Review: RIO – The Ri-Mix
16 Feb 2012
After having learnt that Manchester based rapper RIO had written and recorded his fifth mixtape in just three weeks, I was excited to hear what he had to say in just eight tracks. RIO hasn’t released any music for a while, as he states in opening track Headlines, so The Ri-Mix is the perfect opportunity to remind his long-standing fans what they have been missing, and to draw in new supporters. In just under two days The Ri-Mix has reached number two on the Mixtape Madness download chart, just behind English Frank, so I have high expectations.
The opener fits in everything it needs to and more. Both new listeners and people who have been rating RIO for time will be pleased with this track. The MC doesn’t just introduce himself and his world, but shouts out his loyal fans for supporting him through his more difficult times. RIO’s love for his fans is a recurring theme throughout The Ri-Mix, which is highly admirable and a topic often left out of mixtapes as of late, or so it seems.
Rack City follows, and RIO puts his own spin on Tyga’s track. I actually really like it.*
The following track, The Motto, blends in perfectly with the previous beat. This track is pretty much a huge ‘big up’ to his fans and their ongoing support. The second half improves considerably from the first – not that the first half is bad at all(!), but rather it starts off good, then gets really good, then just gets crazy. Definitely a track where RIO can show off his brilliant delivery techniques.
The ever-popular John is the chosen beat for the next track, and the wordplay is the best so far on The Ri-Mix. The delivery is, again, very good. RIO speaks briefly on the riots that engulfed the country last summer, and the brief reference to God is a nice touch – the content is becoming more interesting and the song has a touch more of RIO’s personalty, which is a huge positive.
N*ggas in Paris, another one of the most popular mixtape beats of last year, follows. Content wise, it isn’t the most interesting out of the eight tracks, but I love RIO’s ‘I don’t care, I’ll say what I want’ attitude. He’s almost verging on cocky, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is obvious that he is confident in his ability.
The following track is RIO’s personal favourite from the mixtape. Mirror on the Wall is the only track on The Ri-Mix where the MC really lets us into his deeper negative thoughts about life and the music industry. The lyrics are emotional, and so is the delivery. It is a world away from the previous tracks, and a reminder that despite his cheeky (and sometimes explicit) lyrics and confident attitude, RIO is just as human as the rest of us.
Underground Kings is a return back to the original sound of the mixtape, and the final track, Stay Schemin (one of my favourite beats of the past couple of months), is a great closing track owing to the return of some emotional bars and, in turn, honest, authentic delivery.
Overall, The Ri-Mix is a bit like a box of Celebrations. A wide variety of fillings (content), a good range of outer shells (beats) and a couple of real gems (Rack City and Mirror on the Wall stand out for me). Oh yeah, and once I finished it, I wanted to eat (hear) even more.
Follow RIO on Twitter: @RIOMUSIC10
RIO’s first body of work Bottom to the Top was released in October 2010 and was immediately nominated for ‘Best Grime Mixtape of the Year’ at the highly coveted Official Mixtape Awards. Now the manchester based rapper releases his next mixtape entitled Ri Mix with DJ Tango!!
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*I hate the original Rack City. It is annoying and pointless, and I can’t believe that any true hip-hop fan could listen to it and think “yeah, Tyga’s got bars” (I blame the whole Young Money movement and the teenagers who obsess over Minaj and co. I don’t know why Young Money happened – oh yeah, money – and the majority of the artists involved are terrible. I wish it didn’t exist). However RIO’s version is the first I have heard where I haven’t finished listening to it and wanted to stab my ear drums with rusty needles. One thing I do like about Rack City is the minimal beat; it gives rappers a perfect opportunity to show of their lyrical skill – though some still can’t. I will probably make a video blog about this one day.