That’s the Goon Squad: Ralfy the Plug and 03 Greedo’s “Thug Life”

Will Schube goes in on the newest effort from the Stinc Team and Drummer Gang stalwarts.
By    May 15, 2019

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Find Will Schube draped in jewels, doing the moonwalk at your favorite dive bar.

It’s hard to listen to music by any Stinc Team member or 03 Greedo without first remembering that they’re all in prison.You can’t separate this music from the fact that these men are spending their primes behind bars under dubious at best circumstances. These are rappers systematically silenced over personal grudges and draconian legal systems. While Drakeo awaits trial, Ralfy and the rest of Stinc Team remain locked up, and Greedo sits in a Texas cell, we’re left with nothing more than the music. It’s profoundly harsh, but thanks to foresight, Los Angeles streets are still bumping with new music from the city’s best.

“Thug Life” is officially a Ralfy the Plug song—obviously tagged on SoundCloud as #NervousMusic—but as he always does, Greedo takes the beat hostage. His voice begins beaten and low, as if he’s already recording his verse from prison. But when he slips into his double time flow, Greedo reminds us why his music makes it feel like he’s still in Watts, eagerly awaiting another purple summer. What makes Greedo so good is how much of his personality he retains in his rapping voice, no matter if he’s autotuned and scatting or bragging about going to jail with some rap money.

Ralfy’s voice is less immediately heavy, but the way he sits in the pocket, worn-in but not worn-out, is profound in its own right. He sounds laconic and dreary, but he always has. He’s the Stinc Team’s straight-faced menace. The album art features both men in their standard issues, across that thick, impenetrable glass, grinning from ear-to-ear and throwing up signs. It should scan as dire, but it’s a triumph. Our boys may be off the streets, silenced in oppression, but not even the dirtiest cops can quiet all the cars and street corners that stay bumping the hits.

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