Local Hip-Hop: Richie Cunning

Posted by on Aug 21, 2011 in Music Reviews | No Comments

image for the album

Richie Cunning / Night Train / Self-Released

Reviewed by DJ Ecoutez

As if the first note & verse of this album weren’t enough to instantaneously transport you back to a different place and a more genuine time in music, Richie Cunning’s all solo, self-produced, self-released Night Train gives you the inkling to dig out all of your old funk & soul vinyls. Released in early 2010, this record stays timeless; it’s as if his spirit’s been invoked by all the great hip hoppers, soul singers and jivers from before our time. Recently a KMEL Bay Area Freshmen 11 artist and SF Weekly All Shook Down Music Fest performer, he throws off the gloves from the very first line of “The Station”: ‘Somebody hold my coat while I get funky on these tracks, with that gritty tough talk from offa the train tracks.’

Cunning reminds us how to put together a cohesive record, a long-lost art in the era of the instant-fame musician: not only are the first three tracks seamlessly reticulated, all twelve songs are rhythmically intertwined, never letting you forget that you’re on one hell of a train ride. He cleverly makes being broke in the city of fog something to dance about in “One Dollar Wonder”, bares his heart in bass and rhyme in an ode to his late best friend in “Still Livin’” & proves he’s ready to take the crown from any emcee in a mere 1:21 in “The Transfer Pt. II”. Night Train took six years to record and release, which is obvious with every snare, every rhyme, every slide: an aged whiskey that doesn’t go down without the burn and sting of reality. The final track, “Last Stop”, hits you like a night cap, a jazzy, resonant, no holds barred joint in double-time that makes you wish the train ran all night. As a whole, the meticulous production and smoother than velvet vocality of Night Train makes you wish more hip hop was as sincere as such; No heir, no façade, all cunning.

Repeatable from beginning to end, but some standout tracks:

1) The Station

2) Work It Out

3) One Dollar Wonder

6) Still Livin’

7) Trainjumpin’ [Look out for the genius single slide from Hendrix’s “Little Wing”]


9)The Transfer pt. II

12) Last Stop


Similar Artists: A Tribe Called Quest, Sean Price, Heltah Skeltah

Leave a Reply