OGUN: Real on Purpose
Say “Ogun” in any local hip-hop conversation, and most heads have either heard or heard of who you’re talking about. With almost no radio play, the stocky, gravel-voiced microphone fiend has gained a reputation for leaving a trail of scorched stages all over town, from the Vault to Sonar and everyplace in between. On Real on Purpose, Ogun proves that, gruff demeanor aside, his strongest muscle is his heart.
Thoughtful songs find Ogun giving props to a special lady in his life, and he is able to express love and lust without sacrificing his hardcore rep. “Behind closed doors, my girl all grown up/ she got all the right moves/ keep my toes curled up,” he raps on the glossy “If She Knew.”
He’s a blend of many MCs from different eras. His intense flow and stage presence is part early, hungry, undiscovered DMX, the dude who once popped the wires in his wired jaw during an audition. And Ogun’s pensive polish recalls early, gnarly “Time 4 Sum Aksion” Red Man—not Method Man’s pothead sidekick.
Both sides coalesce in “Come on, Man?!,” a snarling, forceful track that combines depth and wit with punch lines like, “If practice makes perfect, I’m more than halfway there/ and if you reaping what you sow, a helluva harvest this year/ man, I’m puttin’ it down and my flow ridiculous/ doc says I’m Ill, best believe I’m sick with this,” before tossing off, “I spread my name out in the hood like Johns Hopkins” over a frenetic soul loop. And over the melodious handclapping head-bop of “3 Pennies,” a collaboration with Cirius B’s local everywoman, Maimouna, Ogun offers a discerning commentary on his struggle to establish himself as more than a rapper, as a hip-hop artist.
Of the album’s 18 skit-free tracks, the definitive song is “That Ain’t Me,” where over a smooth yet dark guitar riff, Ogun all but guarantees he will never bow down to what labels prefer to sell, and spits out some vacuous rhymes about guns and cars before admonishing, “that sounds sick, but that ain’t what I’m about/ and I’ma think my thoughts through before they come out my mouth/ that’s my word there’s too much more to rap about/ Yo, I swear to God, this game will never turn me out.”
It’s difficult to describe or fully appreciate Ogun’s style without seeing him live. The man undoubtedly gets better with every release, and his latest proves why, even if just locally, he’s your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.