Madeleine Byrne is mobbin’ deep like ’96 Havoc and Prodigy.
Lots of rappers use melody to great effect, often bursting into song. But what Rome Streetz musters on “The Policy” is a kind of swagger and groove that matches the intensity of Philadelphia-based producer Sadhugold’s beat perfectly. Rome’s delivery is not far off from straight-ahead singing in some ways, but his voice remains spoken and fixed in the New York street rap drawl and mindset.
The first lines couldn’t be more apt: “Learned from AZ, life’s a bitch/ she love me or she love me not/ Seen good, bad ugly queen turn to cutty on rotten blocks.”
“The influence behind that song was just me talking about the code of the streets where I’m from. New York City things that I’ve learned growing up in all different parts of it,” Rome Streetz says via email. Streetz is a self-described nomad and vagabond who has lived in Queens, Long Island, New Jersey, and Brooklyn.
“The inspiration behind that project was basically real life…The struggle of trying to escape the street life and walk the straight path but always being influenced to go back,” he says. “It’s harder to do good and easier to do the wrong thing where I live in east Brooklyn.”
Elsewhere on the track, Rome Streetz makes repeated references to his hometown, most notably on the hook with a nod to one of New York’s finest and one of Mobb Deep’s most famous songs: “Run ya shit/ You know the policy /Everything outta ya pockets if it gotta be it be/ From where survival’s built for the fittest I been a prodigy/ Popped off a 1007 piece.”
Sadhugold’s beat which is otherworldly and tuneful, and not so far removed from the instrumentals favored by some of the much-derided trappists with their sing-song voices, has its own distinctive feel that shows the imprint of its maker. And yet, it’s hard to imagine “The Policy” coming from any other place than New York City. It’s sweet and sour and dirty in the best possible sense.