Ray Cash - Cash On Delivery   
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written by Christopher Watkins    
When one thinks of Hip-hop hotspots, nine times out of ten, or all ten times, Cleveland, Ohio will rarely enter into the discussion, and for good reason. When one of the top five rap songs to come out of a city is the theme song for the Drew Carrey Show, then chances are your hip-hop reputation as a city is severely lacking.

Realizing the challenge ahead of him, Cleaveland’s own Ray Cash attempts to pull a Lebron and turn the Cleveland hip-hop scene from laughing-stock to powerhouse overnight. Cash’s debut "Cash on Delivery," nearly does just that, and although it doesn’t set the world on fire, it marks one of the best debut albums in years, and rivals T.I.’s "King," as the top album of ’06. Speaking of T.I., any fan of Tip Harris will find much to like on the CD, from Cash’s drug dealing background to his clever wordplay and fusion of East Coast and Dirty South hip-hop.

While many would consider Cash’s hometown a hindrance to his career, it is clearly an advantage. Without an established sound in Cleveland, Cash is free to experiment with a sound that best fits his versatile skit set.

The album starts out with “Payback”, a track laced with a Jay-Z sample and DJ Premier style. Cash effortlessly flows from metaphor to metaphor without skipping a beat. "My mind designed with a divine sense of division, multiplication and addition/ I'm a math-a-gician, I was taught to subtract anything trying to intervene and To distract the type of paper that I'm trying to attract." Next follows “Bumping My Music” highlighting Cash’s various musical influences over a synthesizer induced beat and complete with Houston rap legend Scarface to help out, followed by the catchy “Fiends, Fiends, Fiends” and the boastful “Sex Appeal.”

However, Cash truly shines in “Better Way” featuring Beanie Sigel, and raps the mournful story of struggle just as well as his featured guest artist, although Beans has made a living off of doing so. Another track well worth a listen is the self-explanatory “Fuck America” where Cash explains his frustration with the status quo, saying “You say you the land of the free, the home of the brave, but the land belong to me, my people was slaves.” Unlike ”Pearly Gates” from Mobb Deep’s Blood Money, this incendiary song is an attempt to vocalize frustration rather than to garner controversy.

The album is not without its flaws, most telling with P.A.N. featuring Pastor Troy and Bun B. Cash just doesn’t seem to give the listener the same images of thuggishness that other rappers convey, but through no fault of his own. The latter part of the album does lag, but not enough to expect a continuing level of excellence in future albums.

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