Ramriddlz isn’t the kind of artist you take home to mom. Hell, when he was first thrust into the national spotlight, the Toronto R&B artist himself never took his music to his mom. It wasn’t until one of her friends notified her that his mom knew that the “Sweeterman” music video, which launched his career and earned him a co-sign from Drake, was filmed in her own house.
Ramy Abdel-Rehman, the then 21-year-old of Egyptian descent, went from being a snippet heard on Toronto’s Twitter scene to having the recognition of the biggest artist in Canada, and arguably the world. Drake’s rendition of the song, which he debuted on his OVO Sound radio show, provided the perfect springboard for his first project, P2P EP, whose name, an acronym for the phrase “pussy too pink,” provides a perfect encapsulation of who Ramriddlz is. His blend of R&B and Caribbean sounds, is rich with sexual entendres that have the subtlety of a sledgehammer. In “Sweeterman” he brags about a girl wanting his “insta-D” and how “she cant handle me, she’s a screamer/she can’t handle my weiner.” His completely jarring and over-the-top sexual references made him a meme favorite.
However, that same appeal is also his failing with more mainstream audiences. A YouTube commenter under his “Sweeterman” video put it best: “This is the version you listen to when you’re alone because you secretly love it. Drake’s version is the version you listen to when you’re around people to avoid being picked on.”
His catchy melodies and unique sound, who’s multicultural influences make him an ode to the city of Toronto as a whole, are almost nullified by his consistent use of lyricism rife with lines no one would want to be caught listening to in public. And as his artistry becomes more sophisticated on his latest project Ramreaper, it’s clear that his lyricism hasn’t matched it.
The project, produced primarily by his long-time collaborator Jaegan, shows the tweener of sorts Ramriddlz has become, an artist too good to remain a meme, but lyrics too cringey to listen to in public.
At its best, Ramreaper features songs that show his melodic chops and keep the sexual imagery to a minimum. Songs such as “Ramraja,” his first single off the album, and “Feloos,” a song named after the Arabic word for money, feature his infectious melodies and catchy hooks, accompanied by lyricism that’s certainly not the best, but also not the worst.
Most of the project are songs that are so close to being so good, but hindered by a few elements. Songs such as “Austin Powers,” which features a more vulnerable Ramriddlz, and “Black Trucks,” a song that almost sounds Travis Scott-esque at parts, showcase Ram’s rapping chops, but are ultimately failed by the lack of substantial lyricism and in the case of “Austin Powers,” his ultra-aggressive verbal assault on a previous lover, calling her a f-ing “whore” and “thot.” His second single, “Crack,” features one of the best hooks off the album, but is immediately follows the hook with a sexually loaded verse that sounds like it was processed through an Alvin and the chipmunks filter and reads like it was written by Kevin Malone from The Office (“why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?)
That isn’t to say that all of Ramreaper is shallow. In songs such as “In Shambles,””I Knew,” and the previously mentioned “Austin Powers,” Ramriddlz opens up, sharing his battle with anxiety and heartbreak, and his use of alcohol and drugs to combat those feelings.
To be honest, most of Ramriddlz’s fans couldn’t care less about his mainstream appeal and see his lyricism as the core of what makes Ramriddlz who he is. Any departure from that would be seen as selling out. But it would be a shame to see an artist as promising as Ramriddlz, an artist who gained even Drake’s recognition, never make the jump to the mainstream. It also doesn’t need to be done by sacrificing his identity. Sexual entendres are not rare in the slightest in today’s music industry, but being able to pull it off without being jarring is the difference between internet meme and a recognized musician.
At his best, Ramriddlz has the potential to be the next Post Malone, who’s melodies have made him a chart staple for the past couple of years. But for him to reach that level, his lyricism has to evolve as his artistry has.