upper waypoint

A Hip-Hop Anthem for Sinatra Fans — Really — in Richie Cunning's 'All the Gold in the World'

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

a black and white photo of a man with a beard in a suit jacket and bowler hat
Richie Cunning's new album 'Big Deal' mixes hip-hop with a suave, supper-club vibe. (Artist photo)

Welcome to Pass the Aux, where KQED Arts & Culture brings you our favorite new tracks by Bay Area artists. Check out past entries and submit a song for future coverage.

I don’t know Richie Cunning. We’ve never met, or crossed paths online. But the San Francisco rapper’s new album, Big Deal, feels like an algorithm directly wired to my brain, a late-night project made for diehard listeners who obsess over Tony Bennett and Pimp C in equal measure.

Yes, jazz and hip-hop have intersected before, but Big Deal isn’t so much an outgrowth of bebop as the easy-listening $1 bargain bin. Cunning paces the album like a mid-century supper club appearance, Mantovani-esque orchestral strings swell and fall. The spoken-word voices of Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin weave in and out of the mix. Cunning even covers “More,” the theme to Mondo Cane, recorded by easy-listening singers from Johnny Mathis to Steve & Eydie and Tom Jones.

This isn’t entirely a rat-pack throwback, though, evident on the rebuke to that swingin’ scene’s casual misogyny, “All the Gold in the World.” With an instantly addictive hook over a church-like pipe organ, the track pays tribute to mothers, sisters, aunts and the women in Cunning’s circle of friends and acquaintances who’ve taught him to be a better man through “teaching me love, grace, humility / Your strength in the face of ugliness and hostility.”


You’ll hear Maya Angelou, who has her own curious entry in the easy listening bins, closing out the track. And in another nod to mommas? I haven’t noticed one swear word on the entire album.

Richie Cunning’s ‘Big Deal’ is out now.

lower waypoint
next waypoint
‘Dolly Parton’s Pet Gala’ Is Like Taking Drugs That Never Leave Your SystemHow One Outfit Changed The Life of a Former Berkeley High TeacherOakland Sports Fans Gear Up for DIY Fans Fest While A’s Strike Out in Las VegasSan Francisco’s Soccer Team Keeps Making Unusually Good JerseysIs Bigfoot Real? A New Book Dives Deep Into the LegendAt 102 Years Old, Betty Reid Soskin Revisits Her Music From the Civil Rights EraOakland Museum Union Announced Amid a National Wave of Museum OrganizingThat Stank-Ass Plant Is About to Stank Itself All Over Cal Academy’s RainforestOakland Chinatown Lantern Festival Embraces Tradition, Old and NewOakland’s couchdate Makes Room for Creatives to Hang and Play