I became an instant R.A. the Rugged Man fan on the day I first listened to "Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story" by Jedi Mind Tricks. I'm sure that many R.A. fans were born the same way. I had first become aware of the Rugged Man when I came across his track "Cunt Renaissance", featuring the one and only Biggie Smalls.
It is a very enjoyable track in which there are no holds barred and both The Notorious B.I.G. and the Rugged Man spit some of the most brutal and hilariously offensive rhymes ever committed to vinyl. No woman was safe when these two got together for a recording session. Unfortunately, this was the first and last time that these legendary emcees would ever collaborate on a track together. "Cunt Renaissance" was recorded back in 1994.
Fast forward 12 years and Jedi Mind Tricks requests a featured appearance from R.A. the Rugged Man for their 2006 album Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell. The subject matter of the track would be the Vietnam War. Vinnie Paz laid down a solid first verse and then handed the reins over to the Rugged Man. Turns out that R.A.'s father was Staff Sergeant John A. Thorburn, a decorated war veteran of the Vietnam War, and so the Rugged Man proceeds to tell the true story of his father's experiences in the war with vivid detail and an expertly delivered flow. The verse is told from a first-person perspective through the eyes of his father, and I would go so far as to name it one of the greatest hip hop verses of all time. Now here it is for your listening pleasure:
Call me Thorburn, John A., Staff Sergeant
Marksman, skill in killin', illin', I'm able and willin'
Kill a village elephant, rapin' and pillage a village
Illegitimate killers, U.S. military guerrillas
This ain't no real war, Vietnam shit
World War II, that's a war, this is just a military conflict
Soothin' drug abusin', Vietnamese women screwin'
Sex, gambling and boozin', all this shit is amusin'
Bitches and guns, this is every man's dream
I don't wanna go home where I'm just an ordinary human being
Special Op, Huey chopper gun ship run shit
Gook run when the minigun spit, won't miss
Kill shit, spit four-thousand bullets a minute
Victor Charlie, hit trigger, hit it, I'm in it to win it
"Get it," the lieutenant hinted, the villain, I been it
The killing, I did it, cripple, did it, pictures I painted is vivid, live it
A wizard with weapons, the secret mission, we 'bout to begin it
Government funded, behind enemy lines
Bullets is sprayin', it's heatin' up a hundred degrees
The enemies the North Vietnamese, bitch please
Ain't no sweat, I'm told, "Be at ease"
Until I see the pilot got hit, and we 'bout to hit some trees
Till the rotor broke, crash land
American man in Cambodia, right in the enemy hand
Take a swig of the whiskey to calm us
Them yellow men wearin' black pajamas, they wanna harm us
They all up on us, bang, bang, bullet hit my chest, feel no pain
To my left, the captain caught a bullet right in his brain
Body parts flyin', loss of limbs, explosions
Bad intentions, I see my best friend's intestines
Pray to the one above, it's raining, I'm covered in mud
I think I'm dyin', I feel dizzy, I'm losin' blood
I see my childhood, I'm back in the arms of my mother
I see my whole life, I see Christ, I see bright lights
I see Israelites, Muslims and Christians at peace, no fights
Black, Whites, Asians, people of all types
I must've died, then I woke up, surprised I'm alive
I'm in a hospital bed, they rescued me, I survived
I escaped the war, came back, but ain't escape Agent Orange
Two of my kids born handicapped
Spastic, quadriplegia, micro cephalic
Cerebral palsy, cortical blindness, name it, they had it
My son died, he ain't live, but I still try to think positive
Cause in life, God take, God give