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Riston Diggs – PTSD (review)

by Adam Hurd (@HurdANoise)

I was gonna review Elton John‘s new album but I got an email asking me to review this instead so I endeavour to please. I will review Riston Diggs instead of Elton John, no skin off my nose. Let’s get down to it.

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I’m really not massive when it comes to hip hop but last year an amalgamation of Kendrick LamarDrakeAction Bronson and a few others turned my gaze back onto the genre after years of dismissal once Eminem‘s decline started way back when. I’m glad I got back into the genre when I did because it means I can appreciate this sort of creative renaissance of hip hop and rap music that’s going on currently backed by Kendrick Lamar’s use of just about every type of music to tell the story of the album and mash the rap up with interesting sounds.

PTSD starts off optimistically in the same direction, using odd recordings sprinkled with instrumentation for the intro In The Beginning, then onwards through the first five tracks. From Unbothered Goods to Salvation, you get a real sense of Diggs’ personal thoughts on the lifestyle of gangster rap and how important those aspects are to a young father with his dreams in front of him instead of behind. Echoing the lyrics about his daughter and career hopes, the beats of these few tracks fit in this rather sombre, reflective tone, as if to say this is where he wants to be. While the early album beats and moments of melody work well to paint a picture of Riston Diggs’ personal position and what he wants out of his future the lyrics are occasionally questionable. From rapping about taking care of his daughter and life long wishes to claims of having a “hard ass dick and a fine yellow bitch” makes it very hard to take the moments of real trauma seriously. It’s an album of regret and then relapse instead of rebirth.

As the album starts off with hopes of redemption the album quite quickly descends back into the same kind of “bitches and hoes” rap that seems to permeate through the entire genre. We all love ass and titties but it feels slightly hypocritical to be talking about having enough of that sort of thing then falling back into the same hole and enjoying it only a few tracks later. WTF! NSFW starts this trend back up and while the beats are still pretty great throughout the album, this falls into a bit of 50 Cent boasting and it becomes all a bit cringe worthy. The lyrics in these three tracks are incredibly dismissive of the opening intent, Double Entendre and Real F’N D Boyaren’t quite as offensive as the previous but still very much puts the album on a slippery slope in terms of quality.

After more interesting sound-scaping on Recess we have the title track Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, perhaps the most interesting highlight on the album. Some kind of sci-fi synth and slightly shaky vocal performance punctuate the flowing lyrical structure and becomes kind of entrancing. The emotional rawness of the piece circles around the real issues surrounding Diggs…and then he shrugs it off for Ungrateful Bitches. I have some problems with the particularly misogynistic undertone of the track, “you should have at least said thank you.”, with Diggs believing that this woman owes him something for his relationship. I think it’s shown more clearly with the lyric “I just wanna smoke and be alone” where we see commitment issues shine through. The last two tracks continue in the same pattern, Link in Bio is more raw and The Blvd Effect is more angry and gangster-esque, following the same up and down writing that exists through all 44 minutes.

PTSD is, however, a good album despite my complaints. The production is great albeit slightly sloppy in points, Digg’s flow and rhymes are well performed and make sense if sometimes a little basic and the instrumentation is completely on point. If you’re looking for a solid hip-hop album from a rising star then get in there early and support Riston Diggs, if the gangster stuff doesn’t bother you, you should absolutely love this album. If you’re an outsider to the rap circle, this album still holds a lot of value and while it may dip and become a bit harder to listen to in places, the great tracks truly shine. A fantastic effort from a new artist and definitely someone to watch in the upcoming years.

7/10

http://pavemagazine.com/2016/02/16/riston-diggs-ptsd-review/#more-1526

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