If you’re familiar with the Hip-Hop scene in Philadelphia, then you should be familiar with Dice Raw. As the principal collaborator and writer for The Roots, the Grammy-winning MC has been cranking out dope rhymes for quite some time, but with the release of his latest project, The Greatest Rapper Never: The Mixtapes Vol. 1, he’s out to show off a bit of his diversity as a solo artist. Although there are some skippables here, the project overall is an accurate portrayal of his unique ability to make different styles of songs, which is a talent that some can’t hope to claim.
Keep in mind that this is indeed a mixtape; from completely going in over Rick Ross’ “Hold Me Back” in a song aiming at Mitt Romney (“Tea Party”), to his radio-aimed “Crybaby” (complete with the unfortunate Auto-tuned hook), there’s several instances that remind you so. However, even throughout those chances taken, there are dope songs that fans familiar with Raw with gravitate and rock to. “My Name Raw” is one of those simple, yet aggressive songs that shows him lyrically flexing, while “Fake Emcees” has him addressing the rappers who act hard, but stay enclosed with human shields/bodyguards.
Although the first half of the LP has an aggressive tone, Raw changes it up towards the end as he reflects with the last few songs. “Dining Alone” has him reflecting over being left, while “Rear Window” has potent content within it as well. The last few songs on Greatest Rapper Never show the traditional ability of Dice Raw; more listeners will be able to rock it than the other misses such as “Crybaby”, and the Nicki Minaj-sampled vocal flip for “The Illest”.
And speaking of rockets, that was essentially what he tossed at Mitt Romney on “Tea Party”. It’s so blatant and disrespectful, it almost comes off as sloppy, but he definitely gets his point across. He’s also one of the few artists to throw tentativeness to the wind and state exactly how he feels on that aspect, but then again, Dice has never been one to hold his tongue.
The best thing about the project might also the worst thing about it; because it’s a plethora of random songs it can come off as lackluster, but the songs that are done well easily outweigh the bad. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to consider it more as an experiment, as Raw is prepping the second edition of his solo trilogy, The Greatest Rapper Never, and could very well be testing the waters to see which songs stick and which don’t. For now, his sampler platter of a project should keep his fans satisfied until the main course.