Royce Da 5’9” in my humble opinion, is one of the most underrated rappers that ever graced the mic in the last two decades. Thankfully, his esteemed counterpart, DJ Premier, has already been acknowledged, respected, honoured and talked about as one of, if not the greatest DJ and record producer in the history of hip hop. So it would have to take a cataclysmic catastrophe for ‘PRhyme 2’ not to come through and be the album that is everything and more.
The pair’s first alliance together was 2002’s ‘Boom’, which is now considered a Hip Hop classic. PRhyme has been 16 years in the making, with the two collaborating over beats and bars throughout Royce’s early career and albums. All of that led to them coming together as a duo in 2014 and subsequently dropping their self-entitled album, ‘PRhyme’. Providing a fresh, original and lyrical platform for Royce to murder anything moving, DJ Premier laid out sublime production as a playground for Royce to flex his muscle and capabilities as an unbelievable MC.
If fans were expecting the same concept and sound of their debut, then they’d have to think again. Not that they’d be disappointed, ‘PRhyme 2’ has the obvious similar themes, with an MC in his prime (excuse the pun), impressing and amusing you with his quick whips and charged bars, with every line as venomous and striking as the last.
The simple notion of PRhyme is Royce Da 5’9” firing the flames over beats Premier creates by using samples from one artist. The first album’s sound was of Adrian Younge, the producer and composer known best for working with Ghostface Killah, Souls of Mischiefs and the Delfonics. This second album sees Premier create a fresh batch of production from Antman Wonder, who has worked with the likes of Action Bronson, Skyzoo and Royce himself.
‘PRhyme 2’ culminates into a bigger body of work, with 17 tracks compared to their first installment of eight. The subject matter is topical, varied and as engaging as the production allows it to be. Which is a lot. Royce Da 5’9” has the talent to shock and amuse you in equal measure, with his sharp tongue-in-cheek wisecracks giving each and every listener a new appreciation for the Detriot native and Eminem’s old pal.
On ‘1 of the Hardest’, he looks to demonstrate why he should be considered one of the best MCs in the game right now, over a 70’s beat which is a sound we’re not accustomed to hearing from Preemo, something he does often throughout the album.
The punchline’s stay strong and the production does stay flawless, but Royce does spare a moment to open up and discuss his thoughts on the current state of Hip Hop and the ‘mumble rapper’s generation’ that is so highly publicized in today’s era. ‘Everyday Struggle’ starts off comically by posing the thought of Joe Budden arguing with Lil Yachty, but moves on to his feelings of Hip Hop 20 years ago being as wild, scandalous and unaccepted as today’s new wave of artists:
“They say this a profession, do amateurs get rejected? When Shady made his hit record, could Canibus accept it?/ Nah, time just repeatin’ itself, ’97 just was reckless/ Now it’s just bigger checks and now it’s niggas with dresses”
Royce leaves food for thought and something to ponder with his accepting outlook, where he actually wanted Lil Uzi Vert to feature on the song, but due to work commitments it never came to fruition.
The album continues in similar honest vein with Royce’s breakdown of the trials of being a rapper in the modern era. On ‘Flirt’, he details his own personal stories of being caught out by fame-hungry women who are just after that one pay-cheque and 15 minutes of fame. A refreshingly blunt description of how it goes down in the DM’s and the aftermath of the uncovered fallout which follows.
PRhyme as a group with this second album prove that age is no barrier; DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9” have a combined age of 92. A remarkable number for two leaders of their field. And with this body of work, we can only hope to hear more.
It’s original, frank and a refreshing sound to be heard in today’s age of hip hop. Both Royce Da 5’9” and DJ Premier definitely look to bring the best out of each other. There might not be any club bangers you can blast out to, but it’s not something that’s being missed when ‘PRhyme 2’ is as lyrical and hard as any rap record currently out there.