Romen Rok is a native of Providence, R.I. Wondering how far he is from Peter Griffin in Quahog would be awesome, but let’s stick with what we already know. A man of many talents, he can produce, rap, DJ and is a visual artist, too. Multi-faceted would be the correct assumption. So the question is, is Absolutely!, his debut album, good or garbage? The answer is neither, but for his first project, it’s absolutely promising.
First you get to know Romen, he’s the guy who fires punchlines with the speed of a machine gun. Yet, he’s a well-rounded kind of dude. You can hear it in his urgency on “Never Too Much”, his silly brand of battle tested flow in “Cuckoo Nest”, and his best performance on the record, “Running with Scissors”. He also experiences the daily trials and tribulations with the ladies on “Crash Test,” and then contemplates the world’s many issues heavily along with Moe Pope on “Einstein’s Dream”. That theme arises once again on “Golden Boy”, which is more of a satirical tale. And when you hear “Any Word”, he really can apparently rhyme any word with the word, “word.” Pretty cool shit right? But he also puts time aside to get heartfelt, such as on the uncanny and very straightforward tale told in “The Feed”, which is about a Cannibal do-gooder feasting on sinners. “The Feed” does sometimes get graphic, but it’s not overly obvious until you hit the end of the first verse. He also shouts out his closest confidant on “Lou Diamondz Forever”, which sounds like a true but quick ode on his friend who got him into rapping in the first place.
Surely it’s sounding like a disc that is all over the place. But the glue that holds this one together is the respectable production talent he’s obtained. On here, Rok’s assisted by Joe Beats, Esh, DJ Al Bums, DJ Real, Manu and Paul Quo. Not to mention, Romen produces four of the album’s thirteen tracks. You get to hear a ton of soundscapes, such as Straight Outta Compton sped-up breakbeats on “Runnin’ With Scissors” and a hypnotic Latin guitar on “La Posta”. And the rest of album, well, it’s more or less Schoolhouse Rocks! on acid. You don’t notice growth over an entire CD like this where a rapper improves more and more over his soundscape surroundings, and that in large part is what keeps Absolutely! from going stale. Romen keeps you entertained on the flow so long as the production does the exact thing with him. In turn this CD continues to reward the listener more and more.
After 45 minutes of Absolutely! passes by, you’re surprised it’s over. Maybe Romen’s thoughts were going too fast for you, maybe the beats kept you well enough in a trance that you were nodding your head too much to notice. But in the words of Romen on the closing verse of “Rotate”: “Sorry, I gotta go, it’s been a pleasure to be friends, I promise, it won’t be long until we say hello again.” Safe travels, Romen.
3.5 out of 5