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R.A. the Rugged Man

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R.A. the Rugged Man
R.A the Rugged Man at Hip Hop Kemp 2013.jpg
R.A. the Rugged Man in 2013
Background information
Origin Suffolk County, New York, US
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper, screenwriter, film director, film producer
Years active 1992–present
Labels Nature Sounds Records (current) Jive Records, Capitol Records, Priority Records (former)

R.A. Thorburn, better known by his stage name R.A. the Rugged Man, is an American rapper.[1] He began his music career at age 12, building a reputation locally for his lyrical skills. R.A. signed to major label Jive Records at age 18, but his debut album, Night of the Bloody Apes, was never released.[2]

Since then, he has worked with the likes of Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang Clan, Kool G Rap, and Notorious B.I.G, as well as producers Erick Sermon, Trackmasters, DJ Quik, The Alchemist, J-Zone, and Ayatollah.[citation needed] He was featured on all three of Rawkus’s Soundbombing albums, as well as the platinum-selling WWF Aggression album. After a brief stint on Capitol Records (during which he recorded another unreleased album, American Lowlife), R.A. signed with independent label Nature Sounds and released his official debut, Die, Rugged Man, Die.[3] In 2013, R.A. released his second album, Legends Never Die.[4] The album was released on April 30, 2013 by Nature Sounds.

In addition to his hip hop career, Thorburn has been active as boxing commentator and film critic. He has contributed to Vibe, King, Complex, Rides, XXL,[5]The Source, The Ring, among others. He wrote and produced the cult film Bad Biology, and also hosts the web series "Film School" on MTV's


1992-2003: Beginnings

In 1992, Thorburn signed with Jive Records, then in the mid-1990s signed with Priority Records/EMI.[6] His contract was later absorbed by Capitol Records but he began recording independently in the early 2000s. He has worked with MC's such as The Notorious B.I.G., Mobb Deep, and Chuck D.[citation needed] He was featured on all three of Rawkus’s Soundbombing albums, as well as the platinum-selling WWF Aggression album, performing the theme song for Chris Jericho.[citation needed] In Ego Trip Vol. 1, Issue 3, the Notorious B.I.G. was quoted as saying, "I thought I was the illest," when referring to Thorburn.[7]

2004-2012: Die, Rugged Man, Die, film cameos & magazine writing

In 2004 he released his first album Die, Rugged Man, Die[8][dead link] on the Brooklyn-based label Nature Sounds. Thorburn has cameos in several music videos including Havoc from Mobb Deep's I'm the Boss, Sadat X's Throw the Ball and Old Man featuring Wu-Tang Clan's RZA, Masta Killa and Ol' Dirty Bastard.

The October 2006 issue of The Source featured Thorburn's verse on Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story as its "Hip-Hop Quotable" of the month[citation needed] and HipHopDX named it as the "Verse of the Year"[9] states that "This record will be remembered most for R.A.'s robotic flow recounting his own father's story of war while absolutely murdering the beat."[citation needed] Rolling Stone Magazine recently compared Thorburn's rap flow to that of a blue-eyed Biggie Smalls.[citation needed] When reviewing his song "On the Block", Vibe Magazine said, "I love this song. It give me goosebumps. It's very inventive."[citation needed]

In addition to his hip hop career, Thorburn wrote a monthly movie column for Mass Appeal Magazine, was a contributor to The Ego Trip Book of Rap Lists (St. Martin's Press) and Ego Trip's Big Book of Racism (HarperCollins), and has written numerous articles for other magazines including Vibe, King, Complex, Rides, XXL[5] and The Source.[citation needed]

A horror film fan, Thorburn has written three screenplays with cult film director Frank Henenlotter and is writer-producer of the Henenlotter film Bad Biology.[10][better source needed] The film has an original score by Josh Glazer (J. Glaze) with additional production by Prince Paul, and cameos by Playboy model Jelena Jensen and Penthouse Pet Krista Ayne. Thorburn is working on his directorial debut, a film based on his family, God Take, God Give.[11]

2013-present: Legends Never Die

Thorburn's second studio album Legends Never Die was released on April 30, 2013.[12][better source needed] Guest appearances include Brother Ali, Masta Ace, Tech N9ne, Talib Kweli, Hopsin, Eamon (singer) and Krizz Kaliko. His first single of the album was 'The Peoples Champ'. The second single was "Learn Truth' Feat. Talib Kweli. Upon release the album debuted at number 1 on the US Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart, number 17 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and at number 131 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 4,000 copies in the United States and ended up selling over 40,000 units worldwide to date.[13]

Personal life

The initial "R" stand for Richard, in honor of his uncle Richard W. Jurgensen, who served in Vietnam alongside his father, then returned to marry his father's sister.[14][better source needed]

Thorburn's father, Staff Sgt. John A. Thorburn, was a Vietnam veteran affected by Agent Orange.[citation needed] His brother Maxx was born handicapped and blind, eventually dying at the age of 10. Thorburn's sister, Dee Ann, was born without the ability to walk or speak. She died in 2007 at the age of 26. Thorburn tells his father's story in "Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story," from the Jedi Mind Tricks album Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell. John A. Thorburn died 7 January 2010 from cancer.[15] Thorburn is of German, Scottish and Sicilian descent.[16]

In 2015, Thorburn debated diversity within the united states with prominent white nationalist Jared Taylor, which was hosted by Gavin McInnes on his show.


Studio albums
Compilation albums
Unreleased albums


Year Show Role Notes
2008 Three Thug Mice Vic (Short)
2008 Bad Biology Ex-Boyfriend (As R.A. The Rugged Man) Also Writer and Producer
2009 Damnation Film Crew Guy #1 (Short)
2013 Skid Row John


  1. ^ R.A. The Rugged Man. Retrieved on 2011-05-30.
  2. ^ Ben Westhoff (10 November 2009). "R.A. the Rugged Man Abides". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Above Ground Magazine: R.A. The Rugged Man Releases Video Based On Experience With Jive Records
  4. ^ Jeremiah. "R.A. The Rugged Man: The People's Champ [prod by Apathy] -". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  5. ^ a b It’s A Beautiful Thing Being R.A. the Rugged Man. Xxlmag.Com. Retrieved on 2011-05-30.
  6. ^ Hakes, Tyler (3 March 2011). "R.A. The Rugged Man Releases Video Based On Experience With Jive Records". aboveGround Media. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  7. ^ R.A. the Rugged Man Abides – Page 1 – Music – New York. Village Voice (2009-11-10). Retrieved on 2011-05-30.
  8. ^ 365 Albums a Year » Year 1, Day 171: R.A. The Rugged Man – Die, Rugged Man, Die (2004). (2010-04-06). Retrieved on 2011-05-30.
  9. ^ Hale, Andreas. (2007-01-01) 2006 HipHopDX Awards | Rappers Talk Hip Hop Beef & Old School Hip Hop. HipHop DX. Retrieved on 2011-05-30.
  10. ^ Bad Biology (2008),
  11. ^ R.A. The Rugged Man Talks New Film And Music Projects. (2009-08-31). Retrieved on 2013-04-17.
  12. ^ "'s Top 20 Albums Of 2013"
  13. ^ "LL Cool J Scores 13th Top 10 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ Thorburn, R.A. (2014-02-18). "R.A. The Rugged Man - R.I.P. to Uncle Richie [...]". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  15. ^ Hip Hop Underground bio on R.A. The Rugged Man describes the tragic death of is family members
  16. ^ HipHopDX (18 October 2013). "R.A. The Rugged Man Says Justin Timberlake Is "Not The Epitome Of Talent"". HipHopDX. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 

External links