Few artists are ever as controversial as they are influential. New York legend R.A. The Rugged Man has lived up to this billing by combining the authenticity of his undeniably rugged life with lyrical skills feared by nearly all of his hip hop peers.
The emcee, who has alluded to suffering from mental illness, has openly talked about coming from a broken home. His father was a Vietnam veteran affected by Agent Orange, his brother Maxx was born physically and visually impaired, eventually dying at the age of 10, while his sister Dee Ann couldn’t walk or speak (She later died in 2007 at the age of 27). Finding refuge in hip-hop, R.A. began his whirlwind rap career at the age of 12.
His immediate growth as an artist and constantly rising profile soon caught the attention of the major labels, and R.A. found himself at the centre of a nine label bidding war. While he eventually signed with Jive, his vile behaviour proved too much for the label to handle as they left his career to die without an album in stores to his name. To make matters worse, the rapper’s stage shows had become so out of control that he was banned from performing in the United States.
Taking matters into his own hands, R.A. pioneered the indie-rap hustle, pressing his own vinyl singles and racking up one of the most impressive resumes in rap history. From collaborations with Wu-Tang and Mobb Deep to The Notorious B.I.G. and Kool G Rap, not to mention productions from Erick Sermon, DJ Quik and The Alchemist, his discography reads like a Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. After being awarded the prestigious “Hip-Hop Quotable” by The Source magazine, R.A. inked a deal with indie label NatureSounds and dropped his debut studio album Die Rugged Man, Die! in 2004! Following this he released the 2009 compilation Legendary Classics, finally giving fans remastered versions of Rugged Man classics that had never seen the light of day.
R.A. has also been acclaimed for his writing, regularly contributing to Vibe, Complex and Mass Appeal magazine, and later landing a book deal with Testify Books. He expanded into film by producing and writing the cult classic Bad Biology, and is currently working on his directorial debut – a documentary based on the life of his father.
Now, two decades after his career began, R.A. has improbably outlasted nearly all of his peers. Having been banned, forgotten, black balled, and left for dead, the Rugged Man has somehow emerged in 2013 with a thriving career, a nonstop touring schedule, a die-hard fan base, and a new album that is sure to solidify his place as one of the most important figures in underground hip-hop. Featuring A-list guests like Tech N9ne, Hopsin, Talib Kweli, Brother Ali, Krizz Kaliko, Vinnie Paz, Masta Ace, Sadat X, Eamon, and more, Legends Never Die is not only a celebration of R.A.’s illustrious career, but an exciting look at what’s still to come.
“Honestly, I feel like this is only the beginning,” says R.A. “The only reason I live is to be the best at what I do and I get better at it every day of my life,” he says. “I can’t wait to unleash it to the world.”
Last time R.A. the Rugged Man visited our shores he left audiences stunned with his energetic lyricism, and slightly grotesque, yet loveable stage show. It’s time for the big man to return!
Brisbane: Friday 13 Sept @ Coniston Lane
Sydney: Saturday 14 Sept @ The Standard
Canberra: Sunday 15 Sept @ Transit Bar
Hobart: Wednesday 18 Sept @ Republic Bar
Melbourne: Thursday 19 Sept @ Gershwin Room, Espy
Perth: Saturday 21 Sept @ Rosemont Hotel
Adelaide: Sunday 22 Sept @ The Gov
Tickets On Sale Friday 2nd August via Oztix & Moshtix