Royce da 5'9" and DJ Premier come together for "PRhyme," a collaboration that hip-hop should be grateful for.
When Royce da 5’9” and DJ Premier announced that they’d be making an entire project together, hip-hop heads everywhere got excited. Premier is a legendary figure in hip-hop and Royce is widely revered for his ability to spit quality bars. With three years having passed since Royce’s last project, he’s still managed to remain active with work related to Slaughterhouse and Shady. Premier’s name will be relevant in hip hop discussions no matter what.
This album starts off on a somewhat slow note. Not slow as in boring, just slow enough to allow listeners to get situated. Royce’s flow isn’t too aggressive throughout the title track, which kicks off the LP. He actually changes up his flow a few times on the mellow-sounding Premier beat, spitting a full three verses for the intro track, which lets us know he’ll spare no bars on this project.
The next thing we hear is a scratched up sample of Joell Ortiz’s voice on “Dat Sound Good”. This acts as the hook, showcasing the DJ side of Premier just as well as the beat showcases his production chops. Royce spits a dope verse and is accompanied by two more from Ab-Soul and Mac Miller. Hearing Miller on this album is something of a surprise, but he does his thing. I can’t take that away from him. He flows with confidence like he knows he belongs on this track with PRhyme and Ab-Soul.
“U Looz” might be one of the best production jobs on the album, even though it has the length of an intro track and is finished off by Premier speaking to Royce. Premier even tries his hand at spittin’ a few bars. This song was actually thought to be the intro when it was first released.
In typical Royce fashion, he calls out the rap game in general on “You Should Know." Lines like “Lyrical spitting image that mirrors the birth of Slim / None of these rappers can work with me, I work with them” put Royce on a lyrical pedestal, but with his performance on this track, it’s hard to say he doesn’t belong up there. Even though this song is lyrically boastful and challenging, Premier gives it a very easy and relaxing beat that perfectly complements Dwele’s vocals on the hook. This is definitely one of the better tracks on the album.
Royce is back to rapping by himself on “Courtesy," the first single from this album. Many rappers seem to have their best abilities brought out when rapping with others, as if it gives them some incentive to not be outperformed. Royce seems to go into a studio with the mentality of trying to out-rap any competition he might have, regardless of if they’re in the studio with him. That’s what we need from MCs these days.
Two of the best lyricists to come out of the Midwest come together on “Wishin," which brings Common onto the album. This song is another strong point on the tracklist. Premier starts things off on a slow note as the song builds up. Then halfway through Royce’s first verse, it stops and turns into something even better. The beat picks up, and Royce matches it with his delivery. He even flips one of his lines from his famous BET cypher by saying, “The kind of frame I prefer to see the world through / Don't ask me nothin’ about Budden / I suppose I propose to all my girls too”. Premier’s beat fluctuates from fast to slow again when Common comes on. Unfortunately, Common’s energy doesn’t match Royce’s because of this.
In keeping with the pattern of bringing in revered lyricists as guests, the next song on the album features Jay Electronica. Fans of lyricism (which includes pretty much all Royce da 5’9” fans) must have done cartwheels when they saw the list of features on this project. Royce and Jay are both really just flowing about whatever they feel like here, which of course means Jay says a bunch of stuff the average person has to look up to understand. Royce makes it clear that he’s going to do just what he wants with the intro to this track.
“Underground Kings” is probably the most aggressive track on the album, in terms of production and lyrical delivery. Premier really did great work here. Also, Schoolboy Q himself brings a high level of aggressive delivery to the track with his “Hoovers 'bout it 'bout it” attitude. Someone could probably pull off some illegal activity with just this verse in the background. Not to be outdone, Killer Mike comes in with the same high energy to finish the song off.
What’s a Royce album with no Slaughterhouse feature? Much to the delight of House Gang fans, the project ends with all four Slaughterhouse MCs on the track together. This song serves as something of a sequel to their classic song “Microphone” from their debut album. Each verse ends with a line from the original song, which is a great touch. The pairing helps to show that these boys have not lost a step lyrically.
This album is a pretty short one, but in just over half an hour, PRhyme gives us a much-needed hip-hop project. When you have a lyricist as skilled as Royce and a producer as skilled as Premier, it’s almost impossible to imagine that the end result won’t be something great. Now, we know for sure that the end result is a near-classic. There isn’t one weak track on this album.
Check out our recent interview with Royce, Premo and Adrian Younge (who supplied all of the samples for PRhyme) below.