Royal Flush is a rapper from Queens who is good friends with Mic Geronimo, whose The Natural album I reviewed two years ago right before taking my extended vacation. He is also acquainted with Noreaga and numerous New York producers who came to his aid on his debut record, Ghetto Millionaire.
The album is very similar in tone to The Natural, consisting mainly of street stories that Royal Flush may or may not have experienced (and let's be honest; most of these rappers haven't experienced what they actually talk about in their rhymes or else most of them would be in prison).
Some feel that Ghetto Millionaire is an overlooked gem from the 90s, arriving at the tail-end of the golden era in 1997 (the year when hip-hop began its ultimate downturn). Is it?
Let's find out.
Standard album intro.
2. I Been Gettin' So Much $
This beat, produced by Buckwild, was also given to O.C. for his track "Burn Me Slow" off of Jewelz, also released in '97. When I hear this instrumental, however, the first song I think of is "I Been Gettin' So Much $." Royal Flush sounds fantastic over what is a flat-out awesome beat, and upon listening to this cut, you'll feel like you've hopped into a time-machine and been teleported back to the 90s. Great way to open things up.
3. Iced Down Medallions
Royal Flush brings Noreaga along for this record, a record that suits N.O.R.E. very well (he only does the hook, though). The EZ Elpee beat is solid, consisting of horns and a nice bassline that both artists rap smoothly over. Ghetto Millionaire is off to a good start.
4. Can't Help It
One thing you'll probably notice about Royal Flush right off the bat is that his flow is usually always on point, and that quality is very noticeable on "Can't Help It." Over a fairly introspective Prince Kaysaan instrumental, Royal Flush basically talks about how he can't help hustling. Cliché, yes, but it works. A female R&B artist named Khadejia croons the hook, and she does it wonderfully. Flush is batting a thousand so far.
5. Illiodic Shines
This is one of the best songs I've ever heard. Seriously. Over a mind-bogglingly soulful (and beautiful) piano-sample-driven Prince Kaysaan beat, Royal Flush and Mic Geronimo go back and forth, Jadakiss and Styles P style, in telling a Mobb Deep-like street tale. These two go together like peanut butter and jelly. Better yet, they go together like Prodigy and Havoc. Flush and Mic tell the story so well that you almost feel like you are there with them. Awesome, awesome, awesome cut.
6. Movin' On Your Weak Productions
Royal Flush gets some help from Da Beatminerz here, as the go-to producers for the Boot Camp Clik lay down a smooth, dope instrumental for Flush to try his hand at. A dude named Phenom Pacino accompanies the Queens rapper, and he does a fine job. Yet another winner for Royal Flush.
7. Conflict Intro
The first misfire by Royal Flush. It's not that "Conflict" is a bad song; it just doesn't even come close to measuring up to the first few tracks on the album. It doesn't have much replay value, either. The Sha-Self beat is pretty boring, and while the guest artists from the group Wastlanz do alright for themselves, they aren't enough to bring this cut out of its doldrums.
9. Shines Intro
Another intro? Seriously?
Hi-Tek has always been one of my favorite producers, but it seems like he gave Royal Flush a throwaway beat here. Then again, this was extremely early in Hi-Tek's career, so perhaps he was still learning the ropes. Second miss in a row for Flush.
11. Family Problems
I really hope this isn't a true story, as Royal Flush tells the tale of killing his abusive father (I looked it up and couldn't find anything on it). It's a decent record, though. The EZ Elpee instrumental is smooth, and Flush answers the bell with a solid performance.
12. What a Shame
Noreaga drops by again, and this time, he actually puts down a verse. He does a nice job, too. The beat by EZ Elpee is just alright, though. Overall, "What a Shame" was pretty forgettable.
13. Regulate Intro
Honestly; what is the point of all of these?
Mic Geronimo makes his second appearance on Ghetto Millionaire here, but if you are expecting "Regulate" to be anything like "Illiodic Shines," you are going to be sorely disappointed. It's not a terrible track, as both artists flow very well over the EZ Elpee production, but the beat isn't anything to write home about. This album has been going through quite a lull over the good majority of the last several songs, huh?
And we're back on track. This song knocks, but the sad part is that the primary thing I think of whenever I hear it now is how Harry Fraud (who I like) shamelessly pilfered from the same sample L.E.S. used to make this beat to make a fundamentally identical instrumental for Chinx Drugz (yeah; exactly). Did Harry Fraud not listen to this track, or did he hear it and think because Royal Flush isn't a very well-known artist that nobody would notice? Anyway, "Worldwide" is one of the best cuts on the project.
16. Niggas Night Out
It's tough for me to say this, because Buckwild is one of my favorite producers of all-time, but his beat on "Niggas Night Out" (his second of three contributions to Ghetto Millionaire) absolutely sucks. To be honest, this song just flat-out sucks as a whole.
17. International Currency Intro
Not one of these again...
18. International Currency
Onyx's producer Chyskillz steps behind the boards to lay down the beat for Royal Flush here, but unless he is crafting an instrumental for Sticky Fingaz and company, it just doesn't seem right. Wastlanz stop by once again, and trust me; they are no Onyx. That being said, this song wasn't that bad.
This song bangs. Royal Flush produced this himself, and he laced a heater that will make you want to punch a hole through the wall. This cut is a must for any pump-up playlist. One of the best tracks on Ghetto Millionaire.
20. Makin' Moves
Then he follows that up with this boring ass crap. This was the third and final Buckwild beat on the album, and the all-time great slipped up once again. I just wasn't feeling this record at all.
22. Dead Letter
A heartfelt dedication by Royal Flush to the deceased, but this wasn't anything special, and I won't be playing it again anytime soon.
Ghetto Millionaire gets off to a good start, but then it absolutely falls apart save for a couple of songs. Royal Flush has obvious talent on the mic, possessing an outstanding and consistent delivery and solid lyrical ability, but it's the production on this album that brings everything down.
You would think that any project blessed by three beats from Buckwild back in the 90s would be fire in terms of its beats, but that just wasn't the case with Ghetto Millionaire. Two of Buckwild's three instrumentals were subpar, and aside from Da Beatminerz joint, a couple of beats by Prince Kaysaan and one by Royal Flush himself ("War"), the rest of the production wasn't any better.
Despite the fact that Flush and Mic Geronimo are homies and come with very similar content, Ghetto Millionaire simply pales in to The Natural. While Mic G's album was undoubtedly an overlooked classic, Royal Flush's was merely an above average project released at the rear end of the best time period in hip-hop history.
Another criticism about this album is that it ran far too long for its own good. There was a lot of filler on here, and had Royal Flush cut out a few songs, Ghetto Millionaire would sound a lot better as a whole.
Had Ghetto Millionaire been released in 2013, it would probably be looked at much more favorably by underground hip-hop fans, but it wasn't, and sometimes, timing is everything.
This wasn't a bad album, but it was also far from groundbreaking. Well, except for "Illiodic Shines." That would be the best song on a whole lot of projects.
1. Illiodic Shines
3. I Been Gettin' So Much $
5. Movin' On Your Weak Productions