This adventurous album shows the household name of drag under a new light as Ru broadens his vocal and lyrical range.
RuPaul has remained America’s sweetheart and the most famous drag queen in the country since the 1980s, and he’s still making music. American is Ru’s 11th album, and it satisfies the usual themes of drag — like charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent (the same qualities he judges contestants off of on his show Drag Race) — while also challenging traditional drag songs by venturing into rap and country music. This adventurous album shows the household name of drag under a new light as Ru broadens his vocal and lyrical range.
“American,” the title song, is a political rallying cry set to club music and booming vocals, which make it a party ballad. He sings, “Everybody came here wantin’ to be free/ ain’t no way we’re going back in time.” These lyrics accompanied with Ru’s powerful Madonna-esque voice and high energy allow this song to be serious and fun at the same time.
The next two tracks are equally upbeat, especially “Kitty Girl,” which is perfect for doing hair and makeup to, or for walking to work, because high heel shoes click to the beat throughout the song. Those who prefer instruments other than a digital keyboard and beat maker, or want to hear impressing vocal range, won’t be satisfied by most drag music. Ru’s music at its simplest, is club music. But, as the album progresses, he tries crossing into different themes and branches out instrumentally.
About halfway through, the pace significantly slows down. “Broke Me Down” strangely resembles a breakup song set to dubstep music. “Get Away” follows the same sad theme, but even slower, and just repeats the same lyrics more than 25 times. This dip is clearly the low point in the album.
Then Ru turns the pace back to 10 with “Call Me Mother” ft. KUMMERSPECK. Ru actually raps the whole song, a rare treat normally reserved for seasonal tracks recorded with Drag Race contestants, and the beat sounds just like Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” He continues the political wordplay with lyrics like, “from the Clintons to the Obamas, I keep it tight, now they call me Mother.” This makes American have a reverse climax, starting high, falling way low, and then coming back up again to save itself.
The last few songs successfully continue at this pace, “Lady Cowboy” stands out especially as a fun honky tonk jam. The sharp electric guitar intro resembles Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman,” and playfully teases the drag double entendre with the lyrics, “you ain’t no lady.”
While falling short halfway, the 11 songs in American found redemption and managed to successfully venture into other genres. The album ironically ends with the song, “It Ain’t Over,” giving a sense of resilience and possible political motivation.
Stream the full album here.