From his debut EP Ruger introduced listeners to the modern form of Konto music which is a hybrid of Dancehall and Afrobeats that was popularized by the likes of Daddy Showkey and Marvelous Benji. But beyond his brilliant fusion of Dancehall is his ability to explore other genres like R&B and Hip Hop elements which he all ties together through an unbridled pursuit of pleasure. It’s this Dancehall brilliance and display of range that propelled him to massive commercial success and places him at a level where he can celebrate his feats through his debut LP ‘Ru The World’.
While Ruger’s eye patch accords him a Jack Sparrow-like brand and his trademark hue low cut makes him instantly recognizable, it’s the hedonism that drives his music that provides a clearer window into his mind where he’s constantly in pursuit of pleasure.
Hedonism is an art and Ruger is a master of that art. For Ruger, pleasure is the greatest good. Pleasure is the reason that drives existence and its absence robs life of its colour. And while wanton pleasure might be his major preoccupation, it’s the major means by which hedonists lead their lives.
On ‘Ru The World’, Ruger shows the making of a hedonist through a collection of acclaimed, adventurous, and signature songs with which he aims to propel his career to the next level.
“I’m all about my money,” Ruger says in the opening Grime-infused record ‘Tour’ where he swaggers like a rapper as he announces his place in the industry and celebrates the success his uniqueness and originality have earned him. In an interview with Apple Music African Now Radio, Ruger revealed that he’s a man who reflects and prays, and these parts of him are quickly displayed on the album as he tells his mother to celebrate that her son is touring the world. He also states that he’s chasing generational wealth which shows that for Ruger, his success was not his alone.
Ruger has never been one to mince words, especially when talking about his wanton desires, and on ‘Ru The World’ he paints pictures of his sexual adventures while also offering insights into the human factors that condition a life of hedonism.
In the Legendury Beatz produced ‘Ashana’ which is a colloquial word for a sex worker, Ruger sets the tone for the album as he embraces a life of sexual pursuit that has transcended his music and now plays out on stage where women are eager to recreate the lewd pictures he paints.
A desire for multiple women and the pursuit of hedonism requires the resources and know-how to sustain such a lifestyle. Whether it’s through a display of chest-thumping, sweet talking, and an appreciation and acknowledgment of one’s flaws, Ruger makes it clear that he possesses all these in generous quantities.
On his hit record ‘Asiwaju’, he declares himself a leader in the game with the success to back it. He repeats this chest-thumping on ‘Jonzing Boy’ where he confidently addresses his detractors.
In the mesmerizing R&B single ‘Blue’, Ruger dazzles with his smooth penmanship and ability to mold compelling melodies. He partners with British rapper Stefflon Don to sweet-talk his lover on ‘Addiction’ before proceeding to paint utterly sexually provocative pictures in ‘Likely’ and ‘BoyToy’.
There are parts of the album where he allows himself to get more personal and relatable, albeit within the boundaries of his pursuit of hedonism. In ‘I Want Peace’, Ruger delivers another R&B stunner as he addresses a toxic lover impeding his peace. This display of self-awareness continued in ‘Dear Ex’ where he acknowledges his shortcomings, and in ‘Red Flag’ where he admits to not being a suitable lover and his reluctance to change his ways.
In his interview with Apple Music, Ruger shared that his album packed a bit of everything and indeed, he offered different pieces of himself on ‘Ru To World’. The album showcases Ruger’s hitmaker status on ‘Nine’ where he infuses Log drums for a party-starting record. He seamlessly shapeshifts on strategic collaborations on which he explores different variants of Dancehall while also adding musicality and depth through exploration of Folk with Sauti Sol, and sensually charged R&B records.
While some listeners might be tempted to summarise Ruger’s music as a mere pursuit of wanton pleasure for pleasure’s sake, it’s important to note that hedonism is an art, and Ruger richly explores this art in a way that it’s easily reconcilable with the maker.
His music packs an elevated level of musicality both in penmanship, delivery, and sheer acoustic appeal. His versatility allows him to deploy the cadence required to convey the feelings needed to sell whatever he wishes to say.
While Ruger has delivered an album that stays true to his essence, the 53-minute playing time seems a bit too much, hence it might struggle to retain the fleeting attention of listeners in an increasingly saturated market. Perhaps he could have left off some songs and cut the album down to 14 songs to reduce the playing time and increase its replay quality.
At any rate, Ruger has achieved success on his terms while making stupendous music to match. He’s set to kick off his UK Tour where he will dazzle listeners as he continues to Rule The World.
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.7/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.6/2