By Dylan Reddick

Just a year after releasing his debut album, The Life and Times of Johnny Valiant, Rittz has returned with his sophomore effort, Next to Nothing.  After a debut that garnered significant buzz thanks in part to some high profile endorsements from the likes of Yelawolf and Mike Posner, and being signed to Tech N9ne’s independent label, Strange Music, the pressure is on to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump”. After a short intro track Rittz launches into what he does best; a machine gun paced vocal assault. The track, aptly titled “Explode”, features a slick chorus, a bass heavy beat, and verses delivered in a rapid-fire style reminiscent of his mentor, Tech N9ne. However, that’s not to say Rittz’s style isn’t unique, it builds upon the speed, developing a signature bounce that separates Rittz from other motor-mouthed MC’s.

The rest of the record features several stellar moments. “Turn Down” offers a rebuttal to the popular party anthem with Rittz while “Crown Royal”, a tribute to the popular liquor, serves as one of the album’s primary party anthems. Mike Posner lends his lackadaisical style to two tracks, “In My Zone” and “Going through Hell”, complimenting Rittz’s staccato lyrics brilliantly. The production on the album is polished and straightforward, allowing more room for Rittz’s lyrical wizardry. Some tracks feature bluesy embellishments and guitar solos, giving the album a darker, grittier vibe.

Unfortunately a few songs in the middle of the album, such as “Call 911” or “Blow”, drag on a bit and failed to garner the amount of replays as some of the album’s highlights. Despite this, the record finishes strong. The second to last track, “White Rapper”, is an emotionally charged track featuring one of the album’s strongest performances and lyrics concerning Rittz’s struggle to prove his musical legitimacy. The album wraps up with “Turning Up The Bottle” a song that showcases Rittz’s storytelling ability as he deftly weaves a tale of alcohol abuse around a somber chorus.

Next to Nothing improves much upon Rittz’s debut, tightening up some of the slack and featuring some of his best songs thus far in his career. As the buzz grows, perhaps this will be the release that catapults Rittz into mainstream, perhaps even some radio play. Only time will tell but with such a solid performance and growing hype it’s unlikely Rittz will stay Next to Nothing for long.