The rapper as a womanizer is as trite as the rapper as a crack dealer–and has been for a very long time. The absurd rhymes of sexual trysts, generally nothing more than trumped up adolescent fantasies, are so run of the mill they have become part of the psyche of musicheads, and ultimately, humanity at large. It’s “normal.” Of course some would argue that it has a place in hip-hop. I happen to be one of those people. But what I don’t agree with is the gratuitous exaggeration of something I just can’t believe. If you want me to buy in, create a world for me. Take me on a journey. Sell it to me in a way that makes me feel like rapping is your second talent — your first being womanizing. RIPMC paints that picture on his new album, Playboy.

Okay, so that paragraph above is kind of weird to admit, but it’s true nonetheless. I’m not talking about pimping. That’s not what Playboy is about. Instead what RIPMC weaves is a tale of a serial lover. A man about town. A gentleman of leisure. A good-life aficionado. Brooklyn’s Hugh Hefner. Simply put, this is about being a ladies man in every way, from loving them up, to leaving them down, and everything in between.

The album opens with a poem — a mission statement that lays out who the playboy is. No he isn’t some spoiled brat, who has nothing better to do but squander daddy’s money on hot chicks. Instead he’s a struggler, one of the wooden spoon children who through various life experiences has learned to reclaim freedom, in some perverse way, through his interactions with women. This poem, like a prologue to a book, is essential because if it’s skipped, Playboy runs the risk of being misunderstood and boxed in with Too $hort.

Subsequently, we get the exact opposite of what I (and most people) would expect from an album called Playboy. We get eighties samples and synthesized dancey electro-funk as the underlay to RIPMC’s unique staccato flow. “Looking for Love,” makes good use of Haddaway’s legendary “What is Love” as RIPMC describes women who look for love in the wrong places (which happen the places he hangs out), a perfect example of the throwback vibe, as well as, “Bernie Mac,” which samples Whodini’s, “One Love,” where RIPMC explains that love is what girls want. But, y’know, he’s a playboy, so…

Though the eighties throwback flips are jams, my favorite songs on the album are the two that don’t really fit in. I mean, they do, but they don’t. “Vacation,” a melodic, more romantic song, is a fantastic break in the album. The chorus is begging for a sing-a-long, and though RIPMC is still exercising his player muscles, he’s a bit easier on the ladies. As a matter of fact, he’s inviting one (or a few) to take a vacation with him. But then on “Alone,” which to me is the best song on the album, (though not nearly long enough) we see a total different side to the playboy. We see a second glimpse of that person being described in the opening poem. A person scarred, jaded, masking his own obsession with self-preservation by the constant company of women, because he knows, no matter what, everybody dies alone.

So what you get from RIPMC’s, Playboy, is not only the players bible — lifestyle rules and scenarios woven into verse — but also the players journal. And in that journal is a tale of lust, love and luxury. But also pain, fear, struggle, and the ever-present yearning for freedom.

-Jason Reynolds

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