”Ryde or Die Vol. II,” the second album (in stores July 4) by the collective known as the Ruff Ryders, revels in the hard Glock life. Track after track, the rappers present themselves as businesslike urban soldiers whose primary goal in life is to fill as many body bags as possible. on ”Ryde or Die Boyz,” Larsiny brags of being ”kicked out of preschool/ Played too rough,” while on ”My Name Is Kiss,” the Lox’s Jadakiss tops him by boasting that ”the FBI got me on their list” and by threatening a stooge: ”We can do this the Mob way and kiss you on both cheeks/ Or do it the hard way and shoot through your gold teeth.”
One of the between song skits involves a rat of the human kind being tossed off a roof. With his nasal bravado and quick trigger, Yung Wun is the equivalent of Christopher Moltisanti, Tony Soprano’s hotheaded nephew. When the instantly recognizable DMX finally appears on the penultimate cut, it’s as if Tony himself has stood up at the head of the table to assert his authority.
The music accompanying these austere tales is an equally rough ride. The beats are like staccato blasts of an Uzi, the choruses little more than burly shout outs. With its reliance on new talent, the album suffers next to its predecessor, which was dominated by colorful players like DMX and Eve (here in much smaller roles) and Jay-Z. (The Lox are back, but their central contribution is one of the year’s most tasteless but proud rhymes: ”I got ‘em looking for my solo album like Kennedy Jr.”)
Still, the music has an undeniable meatiness, and the new crew isn’t without flair: During the Twista and Drag-On duet ”Twisted Heat,” producer Swiss Beatz speeds up and slows down the rhythm as if it were a roller coaster, and electro Caribbean textures enliven Eve and Jadakiss’ bouncing ball battle of the badass sexes, ”Got It All.” Naturally, it’s all an act – cameos by Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes are like visits from competing dons – but you do wish some of the Ruff Ryders would act a little less like ”Soprano” hitman Paulie Walnuts. B