OVERALL RATING: 9.3/10
It was only seven months ago that Ronnie Rage released his first EP of 2021, MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, a somber yet vibrant five-track project that played like an acid-dipped diary entry. Fast forward from January to August, where COVID-19 restrictions have fluctuated like the housing market, and Rage has returned with his most recent addition to a discography that consistently values quality over quantity. Rage’s page-turn from MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT to BORN OUTSIDE is reminiscent of Tyler, the Creator’s twist from IGOR to CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST. With BORN OUTSIDE, Rage lives up to his surname and provides a project full of blowout anthems.
BORN OUTSIDE, which weighs in at only six tracks and 12 total minutes of all-killer-no-filler, is a return to Rage’s roots of contagious rhyme schemes and light-hearted bars. Catchy lyrics and hypnotic choruses are blended with instrumentals that fall just as much under the electronic-music rainbow as they do the hip-hop umbrella. Upon first listen, I asked myself at one point, “Is Rage going to make me give EDM another chance?” after stubbornly refusing it for so many years. He glides over glossy beats with effortless charisma.
The first chapter of the project, “STAY UP,” is a certified hazard to any speaker that’s on the verge of blowing its bass. The first bar of the project serves as the album’s thesis statement, “I was gone for a minute, but I’m at it again. Pocket full of money in this life full of sin.” From there on out, we’re in Rage’s palms — a colorful galaxy full of luxurious cars, steamy rooms littered with half-full bottles of Hennessey and plenty of mutual ragers.
Rage then transitions into “KIKI’S REVENGE,” which was the project’s initial single. If your bass wasn’t blown in the first two minutes of the project, then it sure as hell is by now. Seriously, my AirPods took a fucking beating, and it was worth every single strike to my eardrums. “DOING TOO MUCH,” another single off the project, is perhaps the most pop-friendly track on the project. If this track doesn’t put a smile on your face, then you’re either evolving into Jack Nicholson in The Shining or emotionless.
“RACER” is home to the most throbbing instrumental of Rage’s career. There are a million different asteroids colliding off one another and the BPM on it is every DJ’s wet dream. It’d fit beautifully on Michael Mann’s Thief soundtrack. Rage looks the beat directly in the eyes and matches its intensity with a concentration that slaps any leftover silliness out of the track’s element.
We then land on the first feature of Rage’s untouchable 2021, Cloud2800 on “DEVIL IN DIOR,” a track that sees the two SoundCloud phenoms operate a flawless pick-and-roll. Seriously, this two-man game is filthy. Although the electronic themes are abandoned, this track’s a cloudy interlude that will be a late-night hot-boxers best friend.
The final chapter, “EL PRESIDENTE,” is Rage’s impression of George Costanza leaving on a high note. It was the last single before the album, and it’s the last track on the project. A remarkable bookend to a compilation of tracks that belong on any after-hours playlist.