Paul Thompson is shouting free Mista too.
People will tell you rap is post-regional. It’s not entirely untrue–flows are ferried via Interstate and ethernet from Memphis to Harlem, Texas to the Bay, New York to New Orleans. But tucked away in nearly every city are genuine stars who don’t crack Clear Channel. Racked Up Ready was one of those, a fixture in Baton Rouge clubs and in rattling car systems. Though details are scant at the moment, rap Twitter seems to suggest that the revered emcee, also known as Young Ready, was killed June 23 in Bogalusa, a town of 12,000 about 100 miles east of Baton Rouge.
Ready was one of Baton Rouge’s most recognizable voices, his a gruff, expressive bark that was usually paired with what felt like No Limit beats that had been run through Bush administration wringers. He, along with Mista Cain, might have been the third- and fourth-most famous rappers in the city, behind Lil Boosie and Kevin Gates. (The latter was taken to task by Dead Game Records owner Travis Vick, whom Gates mentioned on “Tiger,” from Stranger Than Fiction. Vick’s response, tacked onto the beginning of Ready’s Street Law, is
God J. Prince-level shit talking.)
Differences aside, Ready had much of what made Gates and Boosie stars: the ability to distill years of suffering into four-bar vignettes. Listen to “What You Been Thru”–it’s all there. Too-real detail (“2003, murder charge, nigga, where you was?/ 2004, murder charge, nigga, where you was?/ 2005, I came home and went and found the plug”); Pac-level fate tempting (“Niggas say they wanna kill me? Well, join the line”); sneering disapproval (“Some of my closest niggas changed, I remained the same/ And I refuse to say a name, but you should be ashamed”). As Ready raps those last lines, the video cuts to the actual legal brief in the case of Frederick Grigsby, a then-18-year-old Baton Rouge man who was charged with murder in 2007. The brief is autographed.
Racked Up Ready’s bona fides were unquestionable, his local stardom solidified. But more importantly, his music–even while it was relentlessly hard–had more humanity than most songwriters could ever hope to inject. May he rest in peace.