Consider Rocky Rivera’s Gangster of Love an autobiagraphical concept album: its title derives from a 1996 novel in which the lead character’s name was Rocky Rivera, a Philippines-born San Franciscan. Hence, rapper Rivera and her latest album, which churns with acerbic wit and Bay Area sounds. “Names” skitters along on hyphy-like cymbal and drum snaps, while the Tupac-honoring “Fallen Soldier” is a somber change of pace. “Shine” laments the difficulty in finding the perfect partner but slows the album; fortunately, tracks like “Shine” are few, making Gangster of Love a good and introspective listen into the Bay Area emcee’s mind.
Standout Songs: “Ain’t No Way,” “Names,” “Fallen Soldier”
Songs to Skip: “Air Mall,” “Shine”