Those who checked out my PRhyme review on CulturedVultures.com knew this was coming. DJ Premier is considered by most to be an all-time hip-hop legend, and Royce Da 5’9″ is one of my personal favourite emcees. While Royce has never worked with just one producer for an entire album, this is the first time DJ Premier is producing an album for one artist since Gang Starr retired (R.I.P. Guru). The concept for this album was to get a master, sample-based beat-maker (and who better than Premo?) to produce an entire album by sampling only one artist: Adrian Younge. Adrian Younge is a great producer/composer in his own right; he has produced recent hip-hop albums for Ghostface Killah and Souls of Mischief using live instrumentation, and also scored the film Black Dynamite. Seeing Premo sample only one artist for an entire album would be interesting, as he hasn’t done anything like this before.
I already broke down how the album flows from beginning to end in my CulturedVultures review, so I won’t do the same here. I will say Royce starts things off really deep and relatable on the first couple songs. Lyrics like “I needed to be inebriated to prevent me from getting shy” hit home for me especially; I feel like I could be rapping that line (this happens often when I listen to Royce). The wordplay and punchlines get kind of hilarious on “You Should Know” and “Courtesy”, but I got that real “holy sh**!!!” reaction when the beat changed for the first time on “Wishin”. While Royce being two years sober gives him more maturity, he shows that he can still attack a track with aggression regardless of his alcohol intake.
Overall, this album is as great as expected, although both Royce and Preem stepped outside of their comfort zones in order to make it sound different from most fans’ expectations. Royce has all the technical abilities you want in an emcee, from the lyricism to the vocal delivery, but I also find his personality and sense of humour especially relatable. The way he raps about reaching his prime by making himself a better man and also putting in hard work makes PRhyme possibly his most relatable work yet. Its short length (only 35 minutes) also leaves very little room for filler, and having one producer makes it flow beautifully from front to back. With both artists routinely putting out great music over the years, changing their approach made things interesting, and I look forward to seeing where they take things next.
My Grade: A+
Remember to check back here tomorrow to see which album came in at #1 on the countdown!