This 17-track opus comes on the heels of last year’s highly acclaimed trilogy BLK GLD, WHT GLD, and RSE GLD. Sonically, the album doesn’t differ too much from those earlier offerings: Ray’s easy, conversational flow is supported by samples of jazz and old soul. Yet Fundamentals feels more nostalgic than its precursors, with Ray looking back over a rather full 26 years. The first track, “Dice Game Diagrams,” lays the rapper’s songwriting talents bare, and the lyrics, more spoken word than narrative, conjure sharp images. “Ruthie Dean” seats us at the family dinner table and shows Ray’s ability to turn a story—dramatically—on a dime: “My auntie’s talkin’ shit back and forth while we eat/My cousin’s freestylin’ back porch to the beat/A bullet turned my brother [in]to a picture on the wall.” Sure, there’s plenty of weed and women (“All we ever talk about is sex, drugs, and money,” is “Blackcherry’s” hook), but those tropes play bit parts in these tales. This release dropped on the same day that Ishmael Butler signed Ray to Sub Pop Records, the local label with a roster that includes the likes of Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction. With Ray and his talents on board, expect his label-issued album—dropping sometime next year—to deliver more of the same here, and likely then some.