New York spitter Ransom is a true veteran in the rap game and the king has proclaimed his mighty return over the past two years. While he had a steady output of mixtapes, some mainstream appeal (with features from 50 Cent and Joe Budden) in the 2000’s, and has even ghost written for stars such as Nicki Minaj, Ransom went on hiatus in 2017 after going so underappreciated. In 2020, he came out of retirement by signing to 38 Spesh’s Trust Gang and releasing the phenomenal Director’s Cut series with producer Nicholas Craven. In 2021, he continues that run with a slew of gritty, lyrical assaults – The highlight of which is Heavy is the Head, fully produced by Big Ghost LTD. The prolific yet mysterious New York beatsmith is known for pumping out dark and heavy collab albums, perhaps most notably with Griselda’s Conway the Machine and Ankhlejohn.
Lord to the ghetto, king to the street corner
Police warmers, this is where life expectancy meets karma
Street sagas told by a tortured sinner who preach horror
Heavy is the Head might be relatively par for the course in terms of these underground NY albums, but what sets it apart is Ransom’s elite presence on the mic and the atmosphere Big Ghost laces him with. The beats, are distinctly Big Ghost with their deep low ends and boombap drums, but hat’s special here is how he also brings a subtle medieval vibe to the usual formula. On top of skits from royals and knights on many tracks, we get organs, war horns, and suspenseful synths which make for an epic listen. The way Big Ghost subtly adapts his production to whoever he collabs with is really impressive, and this time we hear Ransom ascending to the throne.
Believe in worship, but I’m dark as the suit and chain on the Secret Service
You meatless burgers getting beat and murdered
When they reach the verdict, we deserve it, you come with problems, you leave in hearses
Ransom makes a clear effort to match the gothic aesthetic as well. While you are sure to hear his typically mean street tales and nuggets of wisdom, he often does so through some unexpected symbolism on Heavy is the Head. There are constant images of all out war, Bible tales, and ruthless leaders in epic tradition. Ransom has a truly one of a kind flow that makes his lyrics stand out clearly, even through such dense rhymes. Some tracks like “The Red Wedding”, a Game of Thrones reference, are just nonstop bars with no hook. On “Tyranny” Ran slows down and gets a bit more personal, lamenting the condition of so-called peasants today and how we as lords can be different (“The best thing you can do for poor people is not be one of em”). Assists from RJ Payne, Vinnie Paz, and Rome Streetz (Ransom and Rome would go on to release the strong collab album Coup de Grâce) match the energy and bar out. The album’s greatest highlight might be the intro, “Lord Stark”; With a beat that feels like gearing up before battle, he brings punchline after punchline (“You tryna flip a 9 to 5, somebody call Royce”) but they never feels wasted. Rather, his lyrics all come together to create a grander picture of street life and what it’s like to be on his level. Crowning himself Ransom the Destroyer on this album, he commands tracks with a one of a kind flow and dense rhymes to make it clear who rules the rap game.
Listen to Heavy is the Head