Review: Ransom, ‘No Rest for the Wicked’

After releasing four projects in 2021, Ransom drops for the first time in 2022 to bring forward his best project of the 2020s so far.

The underground coke rapper Ransom has been picking up much more steam recently in the higher level of the underground thanks to his prominent features with artists like Benny the Butcher, Lloyd Banks, and Russ. But he has been around the rap game for much longer than his quick rise might seem. His earliest work can be traced back to around as early as 2005, but only started to pick up real steam with his Directors Cut series of projects that came out in 2020, with 3 different “scenes”, or projects, totalling 20 songs released during that year. 

He again caught more attention from his features and his 4 projects released in 2021. The first of which, Crime Scenes, caught enough attention for Ransom to eventually grab higher-level features on his next project of that year, Se7en, which enlisted the likes of Lloyd Banks and Royce da 5’9”. After Se7en, he returned again for a collaborative album with Big Ghost Ltd, who last had worked with Conway the Machine on their album If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed, which received fairly favorable reviews.

This all leads up to Ransom’s most recent album now, No Rest for the Wicked. He kept growing upon his past projects from last year to continue building his incredible repertoire of lyrics and rhyming. To start, lines like “Yeah, the tainted blood of a scholar drippin’ on cursed scrolls / Rehearse flows, repent for the sins that torment the worst souls” off of “Imperial Glaciers” scream intelligent wordplay and excellent understanding of lyricism.

Other lines that show that are on songs like “The Hawk” with “A young Aaron Pryor with felonies on the wire /  Fair desire, man, I’m really too old to be airin’ priors” and this verse from “Circumstances”, “I talk to God, but it’s not for repentance / My lil’ homie was shot by that entrance / Don’t call me bro if you not my descendant / I spit fear like I’m not full of vengeance”. He constantly twists his words to bring his bars to life, making for beautiful verses and songs.

But alongside the masterful lyrics, the production is top-notch on this project. Often on Ransom’s projects, the production has held the whole project back, feeling bland and repetitive. But the beats this time around feel more inventive and fresh. Some of the best examples of that are on “Rituals”, “Overnight Success”, and “Beautiful Gravesites”. The latter, “Beautiful Gravesites”, being the best of them, produced by one of the album features, J. Arrr. The way he weaves the backing vocals into the two-string strums makes what seems very simplistic when you look into it so interesting and enjoyable.

While the features are often times very good, with J. Arrr and The Game being great in their roles, 38 Spesh is the opposite. His verse felt really unnatural with the beat and his flow not matching, alongside the poorly written line about telling Daniel that he “need two of each animal”. A simple Google search could have told you that Daniel was not the person in the Bible that built the ark and got two of each animal, being instead Noah. Even if you erase that part, his verse doesn’t sound nearly as engaging as Ransom’s over a very fun and bouncy beat set up by Bernard Woodside. Alongside that, some of the songs in the middle of the project feel like they could have been more. While not disappointing, “Compromised”, “Makin It”, and “Redemption” felt like they could have had more to them to help maximize their potential. 

Despite those slight flaws, Nor Rest for the Wicked is a wonderful album. Ransom was able to bring together all of his strengths and craft a spectacular album that impressed and is very welcome to stay in the vast underground rap scene. 

8.5 / 10

Best tracks: “Rituals”, “Overnight Success”, “Beautiful Gravesites”