DJ Premier – “Hip Hop 50” review

DJ Premier is a 56 year old producer & DJ from New York City that I think anyone who’s passionate about this culture we call hip hop should be familiar with by considering his lengthy production discography whether it be Gang Starr, PRhyme, Jeru the Damaja, Group Home & many others. He’s rightfully regarded as one of the greatest hip hop producers of all-time & is definitely in the top 5 in my book, so to see that he’s dropping a debut EP of his own with all proceeds going to the Universal Hip Hop Museum that’ll be opening in 2024.

“Lettin’ Off Steam” by Joey Bada$$ is a rock/boom bap infused opener talking about getting the paper whereas “Remy Rap” by Remy Ma & Rapsody takes a funkier turn to boast their lyrical abilities. The song “Beat Breaks” by Nas works in some synthesizers paying tribute to Queensbridge while the penultimate track “Terrible 2’s” by Run the Jewels talks about how they can’t be fucked with over a petrifying boom bap instrumental. “The Root of All Evil” by Lil Wayne & Slick Rick ends the EP on a positive note looking ahead to a promising future.

Didn’t think we’d get a solo effort from the Boom Bap God himself, but I’m happy we did because it’s the best EP of the year right now. The list of guest MCs was incredibly curated & Preem just knocked it out of the park behind the boards. Very excited to hear if he’ll be involved with the 2nd installment to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of our culture next summer.

Score: 4.5/5

Gang Starr – “One of the Best Yet” review

Gang Starr is a revered East Coast hip hop duo consisting of Guru & DJ Premier. Before disbanding in 2006 as well as Guru’s death in 2010, the 2 have made a name of themselves with arguably one of the greatest discographies in hip hop history. But with the 10 year anniversary of Guru’s passing coming up in 5 months, Premier has decided to commemorate him with 1 last album under the Gang Starr name.

After the “Sure Shot” intro, we go into the first song “Lights Out”. Where Guru & M.O.P. get bloodthirsty over an explosive piano-inflicted beat. The track “Bad Name” disses wack rappers over a soulful boom bap beat while the song “Hit Man” with [Q-Tip] sees the 2 comparing themselves to assassins over a gritty beat.

The track “What’s Real” with PRhyme finds both Guru & Royce da 5’9″ defining their versions of real over an instrumental that sounds like Moment of Truth era Gang Starr & after the “Keith Casim Elam” interlude, the song “From a Distance” with Jeru the Damaja sees the 2 reclaiming their prowesses over an orchestral boom bap beat.

The track “Family & Loyalty” with J. Cole finds the 2 talking about diamonds over a luxurious beat while the song “Get Together” with Nitty Scott sees the 2 getting romantic over a slow instrumental. After the “NYGz/GS 183rd” interlude, the song “So Many Rappers” talks about the rap game over a tense instrumental.

The track “Business or Art” with Talib Kweli sees the 2 talking about the industry over a haunting beat, but the next song “Bring It Back Here” is so short that it really shouldn’t have been placed on here. After the titular interlude, the penultimate track “Take Flight” is a cutthroat installment of Gang Starr’s “Militia” series. Then the closer “Bless the Mic” finds Guru flawlessly showing off his skills 1 last time.

I’m not a big fan of posthumous albums, but this is one of the better ones out there. Guru’s unreleased verses are well incorporated as are the features & DJ Premier continues to show that he’s one of the best producers in hip hop history.

Score: 4/5

PRhyme – “PRhyme 2” review

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With the 4 year anniversary of their self-titled debut coming up at the end of the year, PRhyme is finally delivering their long-awaited sophomore album. After the “Salute” intro, we then get into the first song “Black History”. Here, Royce da 5’9” talks about his upcoming as well as DJ Premier’s over some piano keys & strings. It originally appeared on Royce’s 2nd EP Tabernacle: Trust the Shooter in 2016, but I’m still happy to hear it on here since he said that this album was coming. The track “1 of the Hardest” sees Royce boasting about him being one of the best out right now over a guitar/boom bap beat while the song “Era” with Dave East touches down on hip hop today & I really appreciate Preemo trying something different with his production on here. The track “Respect My Gun” with Roc Marciano sees them taking about firearms over a gloomy beat while the song “W.O.W. (With Out Warning)” with Yelawolf is filled with battle raps over an eerie instrumental.

The track “Sunflower Seeds” cleverly uses that as a metaphor for livin’ from the hood to logon how he is now over an organ-inflicted beat while the song “Streets at Night” is basically Royce telling us he runs the streets over some wavy synths. The track “Rock It” not only has a gritty bap beat with some keyboards & strings, but Royce’s wordplay on here is phenomenal. The song “Loved Ones” is basically about when Royce was cheating on his wife & I love the way Rapsody is incorporated as she talks from the perspective of Royce’s wife. The track “My Calling” touches downs on hip hop being his calling & the current state of the culture over some birds chirping & hard hitting drums while “Made Man” with Big K.R.I.T. talks about being making it their way over a boom bap beat with some background vocals & strings.

After the “Relationships” skit, we then go into the track “Flirt”. Here, Royce & 2 Chainz get romantic over a boom bap beat with a fancy tone to it. Despite the song “Everyday Struggle” having a short yet decent verse from Chavis Chandler near the end, I thought Royce’s response to all the purists was really insightful. Especially with the lines at the very beginning about Joe Budden (who is a member of the Shady Records signed supergroup Slaughterhouse with Royce alongside KXNG CROOKED & Joell Ortiz) attacking Lil Yachty in an interview last year. The penultimate track “Do Ya Thang” tells his haters to do just that over some chimes & horns while the closer “Gotta Love It” is an ode to hip hop as a whole over orchestral backings.

Overall, this is just as great or even better than the first album. It’s longer, it’s doesn’t have too much features like the last one had, Royce’s lyricism is sharp as always & I actually like how DJ Premier takes a few risks with his flawless production on a few tracks.

Score: 4.5/5

PRhyme – Self-titled review

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PRhyme is a duo comprised of renown New York based producer DJ Premier & the criminally underrated Detroit MC Royce da 5’9″. They’ve collaborated countless times with each other in the past with songs like “Boom” & “Hip Hop”, but now they are officially forming together to drop their self-titled full-length debut.

The album starts off with the title track, where Royce basically tells the audience he’s never falling off over a somewhat mellow boom bap beat. The next song “Dat Sound Good” with Ab-Soul & Mac Miller is filled with charismatic braggadocious bars over a grimy beat with some keys & a guitar while the track “U Looz” is only a minute & a half long, it’s definitely in your face. Especially with the final line of Royce’s verse where he says “this is for the real hip-hop niggas who’ll never ever ask me am I here to replace Guru”. The song “U Should Know” sees Royce putting sense in all the wack rappers out & not only is the Dwele hook on point, but I also love how Preem chops up numerous parts of “True Love” by The Delfonics for the instrumental. Especially with the prominent horns throughout.

The track “Courtesy” compares Royce’s life to both Bumpy Johnson & Nucky Thompson over some explosive drums & a haunting organ while “Wishin'” with Common basically tells us that they wish someone would disrespect them over a killer boom bap/rap rock fused beat. The song “To Me, To You” with Jay Electronica is basically them speaking their minds over a sinister beat while the track “Underground Kings” with Killer Mike & ScHoolboy Q sees all of them talking about the beginnings of their careers to where they are now & the Run-D.M.C. samples throughout are absolutely flawless. The standard edition finishes off with “Microphone Preem” by Slaughterhouse, where the supergroup delivers a sequel to their classic 2009 song “Microphone” that’s just as raw & angry as the original. A year after the album’s original release, they re-released it with 4 new tracks & I’m gonna chop them up right now.

The first bonus track “Golden Era” with Joey Bada$$ gets reminiscent about the titular era of hip hop & the instrumental suits it perfectly. The next bonus track “Wishin’ II” is an equally gritty sequel to the first one except we get a killer verse from Black Thought, who was supposed to be on the original version of that song. The penultimate bonus track “Highs & Lows” with MF DOOM & Phonte vents about people sleeping on them over a guitar/keyboard boom bap beat & then the final bonus track “Mode II” with Logic is a sequel to their song that appeared on the Shady Records curated Southpaw soundtrack, but it didn’t need to be 7 minutes long.

As a whole, this is a modern classic. The chemistry between Royce & Preemo is stronger than ever before, but the standard edition was too short. However, they made up for it by adding on 4 new tracks a year later. And while the features are mostly great, there didn’t need to be one on almost every track. Even on the deluxe version.Regardless, I hope we get another album from the duo in the future

Score: 4.5/5