In a year that has needed Rupaul’s presence the most, the Glamazon is officially back with the premiere of the ninth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the release of “American,” Ru’s latest album.
Of course, for the uninitiated, I am referring to the legendary drag queen and Emmy winner RuPaul Charles. Although, RuPaul has been quoted many times saying he would rather have an enema than an Emmy.
An outsider since day one, RuPaul began his career as a drag queen, performer and musician in New York in the early 1980s. It was a time where the city was very dangerous but was also blossoming in drag culture.
RuPaul remarked that this period was open-minded and progressive but shortly followed by a period of stern regression and conservatism during the Reagan Presidency, a commentary that draws striking resemblance to today’s current political climate.
Through it all, Ru still performed, even becoming a dancer in the music video for “Love Shack” by the B-52’s and then went to become famous in the Georgia club scene in the 1990s. It was not long after when RuPaul found himself achieving more mainstream success, which was uncommon for openly gay performers.
In 1993, RuPaul released his first album “Supermodel of the World” and has been prolific in the time that followed. Lucky for fans, very few years pass between album releases from Queen Ru.
With an album title like “American” in the year 2017, RuPaul has something to say and has a damn good time doing so.
The first song and title track “American” wastes no time getting started as RuPaul comes right in chanting “I am American, American” as a pulsing beat fades into the track. In this song, RuPaul does not shy away from who he is and how he and his friends are just as American as anybody else is in this country.
Here, Ru embraces his identity and acknowledges those who have always made our country great by being their true selves and wanting to always be free. It is a moment that challenges the hegemonic view of who we consider truly American.
Anyone who has watched “Drag Race” will probably immediately recognize the song title “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve & Talent,” as the mantra of any great drag queen. As a song on “American,” RuPaul notes these as being the “virtues of rhythm” that lies within us all.
The songs “Broke Me Down” and “Getaway” are slower in pace and somber as RuPaul reflects on lost love and wishing to be in another time and place. It is the only place the album pauses in tempo before going full steam ahead.
On the song “Call Me Mother,” Ru embraces the Mama Ru title fans and other queens have given to him over the course of the nine seasons of “Drag Race.” It is sweet and very assertive, typical of RuPaul fashion.
From there, the rest of the tracks are similar in pace, each one more fierce than the last. My personal favorite being “Mighty Love” a song that features heavy synths and a funky beat that invites everyone to dance.
For those fans wishing to hear RuPaul’s classic sayings, they will not be disappointed. The word “Glamazon” is, of course, brought up as well as the iconic Ru-ism, “She-done-already-done-had-herses,” makes an appearance as well. “Drag Race” fans will know what I am saying.
Overall, the album is short and sweet with a total of 11 songs and not one going over the four-minute mark. Packed with club sensibilities, “American” is one good time.
Should you listen? Yes!
Mama Ru is truly the light America needs, and “American” reminds us of that wholeheartedly. It is an album that embodies so much of the charm that is RuPaul and the world of drag in an under-an-hour experience. Fans of Ru will love this, and anyone new to “Drag Race” should give it a listen. There is something here for everybody.