Recording information: Different Fur Recording, San Francisco, CA; Factor 5 Studios, Las Vegas, NV; Fishtank Studios, San Rafael, CA; Prairie Sun Studios, Cotati, CA; Sound Works Studios, San Francisco, CA.
Vocalist/rapper Rawsun and his younger brother Don Juan Cartel grew up around reggae, but this album has little to do with that form of music. Their late father, Jahsun, fronted the American reggae band Strictly Roots. When their father died, the brothers took up the mantle, with Rawsun (aka Rason Jahmal) taking over vocals where his father left off. The group enjoyed great success with their traditional reggae/dancehall sound in Hawaii, but by 2001, Rawsun and his keyboardist-producer brother were looking to incorporate the more modern influences of hip-hop and R&B into their sound. This led to a parting of ways with their older bandmates and to the years of studio work that culminated in Rated R. This album is hard-edged, party themed hip-hop with speedy, Jamaican patois rapping. There's not much unique about Rated R, which (with songs like "Get High" and "Life Ain't Easy") primarily falls back on clich?d hip-hop gestures. There is the rare pleasant surprise, however, such as the appealingly Bollywood lilts to "Doin' It." Otherwise, the disc is packed with fairly prototypical nods to sexual prowess, partying, and the hard life of the ghetto, with some strong beats and production flourishes. ~ Erik Hage