Executive Produced by: Dj Premier
Best songs: “New Money”, “Count For Nothing”, “Soldier”, “Something 2 Ride 2”, “Shake This”, “Gangsta”, “Mine In Thiz”, “Thing For Your Girlfriend”, “Part of Me”
I think we’ve found the new and improved Joe Budden, one that still speaks from the heart, has a mean pen game and doesn’t depress you. I mean who knew that when Joey hooked up with Royce to form Slaughterhouse that all Joey’s fans would become Royce fans. I know I didn’t care about Royce prior to Slaughterhouse nor did I think he was any good. He seemed like a backpacking, old, corny, nerd to me. Now either two things have happened, (1) I’ve become a backpacking, corny, old, nerd or (2) Royce got his swagger up because on this album Royce is going for Jay-Z’s spot. Real talk.
I don’t know what’s gotten into Royce but he’s really rhyming for the fly guys that ain’t trying to dumb it down as he proclaims on “Street Hop 2010”.
1. Gun Harmonizing (feat. Crooked I) (Produced by Emile)
First of all, I never even knew Royce was a “gangsta”. When did this happen? Either way, I’m not buying it, but I still can enjoy his aggressive word play on the intro.
Best line: Whole second verse!
2. Count For Nothing (Produced by Nottz)
Royce’s new take no prisoners attitude shines here as he claims he’s on par with Jay-Z, Kanye, and Lil Wayne and then in jest says “just playin”. Even though Nottz produced this, I think he could have given Royce a more melodic beat to work with as the production will get annoying on repeated listens.
Best line: “There’s a couple dope dealers getting rich of what I spit.”
3. Soldier feat. Kid Vishis (Produced by Frequency)
The first time I heard this song, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought I was listening to a Jay-Z song. This song perfectly combines the commercial, street and boom bap to make something both Diddy and Hell Rell could listen to. I also like the idea behind the hook in that every guy thinks their “nigga’s are soldiers” and their “bitches are gangsta”. Also whoever sang these female hooks on Royce’s album has such a sweet tone, Royce needs to sign her or at least have an affair with her.
Best line: “Fresh of the jet from just f*cking with Puff”.
4. Something 2 Ride 2 feat. Phonte (Produced by Dj Premier)
As soon as the beat drops you already know Premo produced this and he doesn’t not disappoint nor does Royce. I think what Premo and Royce we’re aiming for on this album was to blend street hop or boom bap with a more mainstream melodic sound. Even Phonte who does a smooth jacked up swag hook comes off sounding like Jamie Foxx -which isn’t a bad thing.
5. Dinner Time feat. Busta Rhymes (Produced by Quincey Tones)
I probably have to be really drunk to feel this because this just sounds annoying to me. Royce doesn’t seem to be saying anything interesting other than channeling Eminem’s “hannibal lecter”, “i’m a eat you”, “blah”, “blah”, “blah” style. Plus Busta Rhymes soliloquy at the end over heats the corny meter.
6. Far Away (Produced by Emile)
I absolutely love this. The first few seconds you think Royce is going to make this sappy love song and then he stops the record and totally flips into this lyrical assault on sucker mcees. Being a sarcastic bastard myself, I can appreciate Royce’s new approach to making records. No really I can.
Best line: “Nigga’s is corny by nature, plus nigga’s arms is shorter than my nigga from Naughty by Nature”.
7. The Warriors feat. Slaughterhouse (Produced by Streetrunner)
A total lyrical hydrogen bomb. You’ll either hate it because it makes your brain explode or you’ll love it because it’s the closest thing to Wu-Tang’s “Triumph” we’ll hear in 2009.
Best line: No comment.
8. A Brief Intermission (skit)
Who the hell is this white guy? He’s alright in my books, though his tone is a little strange.
9. New Money (Produced by Streetrunner)
What in god’s green earth? This is the best song I’ve heard all year. Trust me, you have to put this on a couple times in the whip and ride around the ‘hood. Royce comes off like Neo in The Matrix while he’s in one of those crazy fight scenes with Agent Smith. It’s like Royce channeled Jay-Z, Cam’ron, Lil Wayne and Eminem all in one song.
Best line: “Yall niggas, pray that your babies come out having good hair, I pray that mine got all they toes and fingers”.
10. Shake This (Produced by Dj Premier)
When Royce dropped “Shake This” on The Revival Ep I had a feeling something new was happening with Royce. It was like “yes, he finally gets it”, because “Shake This” is probably the best Royce track ever made and the exact lane Royce needs to stay in going forward. Everything from Premo’s horn build up to the passion, desparation and swag that Royce emanates is on point. I can honestly say “No rapper is touching Royce lyrically here” and yes you can quote that!
Best line: “Man my dick’s so long it’s probably touching the floor”.
11. Gangsta feat. Trick Trick (Produced by Raf Moses)
You already know how I feel about Royce’s “gangsta” persona but what I even have hate more is a song titled “Gangsta” in 2010. How cheesy right? It’s like Joe Budden’s “Gangsta Party”. Well this song actually “goes hard”. Royce talking about having guns the size of Kanye’s mullet is actually awesome and Trick Trick’s outro speech is scary enough to keep me away from Michigan.
Best line: “It’s even four grammy like Weezy”.
12. Minez in Thiz feat. Mr. Porter (Produced by Denaun Porter)
WTF? Royce doing a club track that’s actually good? Royce doesn’t even sound like himself here, his tone sounds resembles Jeru Damaja and his delivery borrows from Eminem. I don’t know how Royce was able to pull this off but he was able to bridge the demented and playfull side of Eminem with what I call “black man cool”. I mean Royce actually he says “I’m a f*cking rapist”. I love it.
Best line: “When you f*ck bitches they be like ahhh, when I fuck bitches they be like ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”.
13. Street Hop 2010 (Produced by Nottz)
Let’s just say Royce goes in. Almost every line in here is a punchline.
Best line: “At the Grammy’s I send an Indian girl to the podium to say “No tank you” like Marlon Brando at the Oscars.”
Don’t get it. Watch Marlon Brando’s acceptance speech for The Godfather.
14. Thing For Your Girlfriend feat. K Young (Produced by Denaun Porter)
Who the hell is this K Young dude? Although he sounds like Lloyd his singing here sounds so authentic that someone like me, who has a thing for a few guy’s girls, can relate. Again I’m surprised to hear Royce talking about women and the thing is he doesn’t come off corny, a try hard or just saying stuff a girl wants to here. This is the Royce I can relate to.
Best line: “Diddy you wrong, I would have at least told Ryan Leslie that…”.
15. On The Run (Produced by Emile)
Royce turns into a story teller here spinning a tale about being on the run after a committing a murder, which he details in the next track “Murder”. This is on par with epic crime-rhymes such as Biggie’s “Niggas Bleed”.
16. Murder (Produced by Frequency)
In an interesting twist, Royce puts the “Murder” after “On The Run” in a sort of Memento style. Here Royce details how easy it is to be forced to take someones life after being betrayed by a close friend. Again, story rhymin’ at its absolute pinnacle. This is a thriller in the same vein as a John Grisham novel.
17. Bad Boy feat. Jungle Rock Jr. (Produced by Streetrunner)
Royce gets his “gangsta” on again, this time rhyming in a faux-Jamaican patois accent proving he’s a “bad boy”. I’m not sure if Royce has West Indian roots but I know for a fact Jamaican’s hate it when non-Jamaican’s put on the accent. But whatever. Royce seems to be having fun and hell if Lil Wayne can get away with his awful patois than Royce has every right to do it.
18. Part of Me (Produced by Carlos Broady)
You’ve probably already heard this song, and if you have any love for real rap, you already love this song.
19. Hood Love featuring Bun B and Joel Ortiz (Produced by Dj Premier)
Now a days it’s almost customary to have a Bun B verse and what better way to have Bun represent then by making a song about how much your neighborhood appreciates you. It’s not a bad way to end the album, but I wish he would have ended it with “Part of Me” as it’s more darker and is a story concept with a coherent ending.
The Last Word:
I hate to say this but after listening to this album a few times, I don’t think Royce is going to get any better, because he is at his absolute best here. This is by far the best rap album of 2009, hands down (and yes it’s better than Blueprint 3 and Papertrail). I would give it a perfect 5/5 rating but feel Royce should have had a tighter ending, after all you do remember how Ready To Die ended?
On a side note, I am no longer referring to Royce as Royce Da 5’9″ because that’s corny. His new name is now Royce. And I do look forward to him making music for the fly dudes that ain’t trying to dumb it down. For this I say, go out and buy this album because Royce ain’t on a major label and could use the support. You can order your copy at Amazon by going here.