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Ricky Phontaine: The Itis (Pretty Good Music)

Jul. 11, 2017
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Ricky Phontaine, a Milwaukee rapper with an alias adapted from a minor character on Martin Lawrence’s ’90s sitcom, debuts as an album artist with his artistic persona fully formed. That persona delivers on the tensions and contradictions endemic to hip-hop. In his amiably declamatory flow, Phontaine glamorizes drug dealing and boasts of disrespectful sexual conquest from one side of his mouth while warning against substance abuse and wondering what’s become of youth from the other.

Producer Uno Ontha Beatz spans harsher trap music sensibilities to the sort of pop R&B gentleness that could spell crossover breakthrough. It may work best to hear The Itis as a sort of concept album, wherein Phontaine goes from gangsta braggadocio to concerned citizenship—kind of. In an increasingly competitive local hip-hop landscape, it will at least be interesting to hear how Phontaine develops from The Itis


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