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

Royce da 5’9” – “The Allegory” review

Royce da 5’9” is a Detroit veteran that most are familiar with for being 1/2 of Bad Meets Ǝvil with local sensation Eminem. However his mark as one of the city’s illest lyricists has already been made with releases such as Death is Certain, Street Hop, Success is Certain, Layers & even Royce’s last album Book of Ryan. Also can’t forget to mention his work with longtime collaborator DJ Premier as the MC/producer duo PRhyme or with the now defunct quartet of all-star wordsmiths that was once Slaughterhouse. But with Black History Month almost over, Nickel is celebrating with The Allegory.

Things kick off with “Mr. Grace”, where Royce delivers some wisdom & I love how the instrumental constantly switches from horn to string samples throughout. The next song “Dope Man” with Emanny sees the 2 discussing how drug dealers are the kings of the streets over an infectious instrumental while the track “I Don’t Age” talks about how dope he still is over a boom bap beat with the lead riff switching off between a bass-line & a piano sample. The song “Pendulum” is laced with battle bars backed with a solemn boom bap beat while the track “I Play Forever” with Grafh sees the 2 talking about falling in love with the street life over some horns.

After the “Ice Cream” interlude, the song “On the Block” sees PRhyme getting together to discuss hustling over a mesmerizing instrumental & the Oswin Benjamin verse really took me by surprise. After the “Generation is Broken” interlude, the song “Overcomer” with Westside Gunn is about how the 2 rose above their shortcomings over a prominent vocal sample & I definitely can’t forget to mention Royce’s disses towards former collaborator/Shady Records artist Yelawolf not too long after his verse starts. Is he really a “vulture pundit” in my eyes? No, not at all. That being said, I do understand Royce’s point of view on the whole thing. After the “Mrs. Grace” interlude, the song “Thou Shall” with Kid Vishisis essentially both of the Montgomery brothers talking about their accomplishments over a spooky instrumental.

The track “FUBU” with Conway the Machine sees the 2 challenging anyone who opposes them over a demented instrumental & after the “A Black Man’s Favorite Shoe” skit, the song “Upside Down” with Benny the Butcher finds both wordsmiths getting violent over a cavernous boom bap beat. After the “Perspective” skit where Eminem discusses racism in the music industry, the track “Tricked” with KXNG CROOKED is pretty much both MCs cleverly breaking down the idea of deception over a tense instrumental. After the “Black People in America”, the song “Black Savage” is empowering anthem towards African Americans with both dEnAuN & 6 July helping Royce heavily sample the afro-rock band of the same name. The bars that CyHi the Prynce & T.I. both bring to the table are dope, but White Gold’s verse was kinda pointlessly short to me.

The track “Rhinestone Doo Rag” despite being short is about how the next generation is on those listening over a soothing instrumental while the song “Young World” with G Perico & Vince Staples sees the 3 sending an important message to the youth over a funky instrumental. The penultimate track “My People Free” has a respectable concept, but it seems like more of an Ashley Morrell song to as she dominates a bulk of it & Royce makes very little appearance on it himself. Then there’s the closer “Hero”, where Royce pays tribute to his father over an instrumental that’s sweet to the ear.

The album isn’t perfect, but it’s still a fantastic listen. A couple of the features were pretty weak & the interludes are pretty annoying but lyrically, this is definitely Royce’s most conscious effort to date. And for him to start getting behind the boards & self-produce damn near the whole thing, he does a pretty good job at it.

Score: 4/5

Royce da 5’9” – “Book of Ryan” review

With PRhyme 2 being released just a month & a half ago, renown Detroit underground MC Royce da 5’9” has now delivered his long-awaited 7th full-length album. After the intro, we go into the first song “Woke”. Here, Royce sends a message to those who’re sleeping confrontational over a Key Wane instrumental with some eerie choir vocals in the back. After the “My Parallel” skit, we go into the song “Caterpillar”. Here, Bad Meets Ǝvil reunites to tell the audience pretty much what Mark Jackson told Steve Kerr a few years ago over a hard hitting vibraphone instrumental from S1.

The track “God Speed” talks about making it of the hood over a smooth mR. pOrTeR instrumental while the song “Dumb” with Shady Records’ latest signee Boogie sees the 2 talking about the current state of the music industry over an S1 instrumental that sounds like something Dr. Dre & Scott Storch would’ve made together in the Early 2000s. After the “Who Are You” skit, we go into the song “Cocaine”. Here, Royce reflects on his dad’s issues with the drug over a murky DJ Khalil beat. The track “Life is Fair” talks about an ungrateful woman from his childhood over a heavy piano-Fuse instrumental while the song “Boblo Boat” sees Royce reminiscing about family trips to amusement parks & J. Cole reflecting on growing up in North Carolina over a soulful Cool & Dre instrumental.

The song “Legendary” talks about his status in the game over a bass-heavy electro instrumental from mR. pOrTeR while the track “Summer on Lock” with Fabolous & Jadakiss is filled with braggadocious bars over an eerie beat. The song “Amazing” reflects on his old neighborhood over a blissful beat while the track “Outside” vents about his fears over an atmospheric DJ Khalil instrumental.  The song “Power” talks about his family’s alcoholism over a piano/bass heavy instrumental from Boi-1da & after recalling an childhood incident at a basketball court during the “Protecting Ryan” skit, we go into the track “Strong Friend”. Here, Royce reflects on his past alcoholism with some dramatic strings & funky bass.

The song “Anything/Everything” gets conscious over some jazzy piano chords while the penultimate track “Stay Woke” thanks his Bad Meets Ǝvil cohort Eminem for his sobriety while also reminding us how dope he is during the 2nd half of it over an orchestral Frank Dukes & !llmind instrumental. The album then finishes with “1st of the Month”, where Royce gets with T-Pain recalls how happy they would be when they used to get welfare checks during the 1st day of the month over a luscious piano instrumental.

Overall, this is tied with Street Hop as Royce’s magnum opus. It sounds focused & passionate, the production is organic & we are truly getting Royce at his most personal point blank period with each track

Score: 4.5/5

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