Royce Da 5’9 – Death Is Certain

Royce Da 5'9 - Death Is CertainDetroit MC Royce da 5’9″ is definitely one of the industry’s most underrated rappers. From his tight, complex style to his amazing wordplay to his very emotional verses, Nickel Nine is (in this reviewer’s opinion) probably a match for or iller than someone like Jay-Z or the deceased Big L (RIP). 5’9″‘s latest album tries for versatility but ends up seeming to be more than one man can handle alone. Doesn’t stop Royce from delivering fire every time, and many of the tracks are great ones. It’s also absolutely crammed with subliminal disses toward D12 and the Aftermath camp, unsurprisingly enough…

 

1) Intro 

Just a few sound effects; footfals, door opening, etc.

2) Regardless

Great string beat, very soulful, a kanye-styled beat; starts off with the same lyrics as Eminem’s Lose Yourself–His arms are sweaty/knees weak arms are heavy/ (hmmm..) The track has Royce spittin some determined shit about how no one can make him leave the game but himself.

3) Throw Back 

Great track; love the energetic, aggresive, get-the-*****-out-ma-way beat, Royce flows to with perfection with a confident, aggresive verse..Nickel’s usual siccness. Hook’s assisted by a female and very catchy.

4) What I Know 

A sudden switch from the last track, kinda disorienting; mellow beat, not touchin me that much..however Royce’s sung hook sounds like Nate did it and is oddly catchy and his verses are fire.

5) I Promise 

Cool beat; Royce spits more illness, seems to be talkin to God about how no one wants to let him in the game and he’s sittin on all the potential he has (I feel like Nas before he dropped Ether/)

6) Call Me Never!

What seem to be Royce’s phone messages, prolly fake, an attempt at a day in the life of Royce…iono what it’s sposed to do..

7) Hip Hop

Great beat, Royce laying verses about how the game isnt as real as it used to be and the sad state of current rap. Great track.

8) Gangsta 

Truthfully, one of the only tracks on the album i wasn’t really feeling at all. Dont like either the assisted hook, or the plain subject matter. At first the beat seems imaginitive, something out of a cliche old western, but soon gets boring.

9) T.O.D.A.Y.

Big change from the last track; this is my personal favorite. Love the piano beat and the chorus sung by Ingrid Smalls and rapped by Royce; a frustrated Royce questions how die-hard his fans really are and his own skills.

10) I & Me 

Dark, creepin, Mobb Deep-ish track, great beat but Royce again talks about lack of mainstream success, which is beginning to get old. At points Royce quotes Makaveli’s infamous “Truest shit I ever wrote” line from Hail Mary. Tracks like these Royce starts to fall into monotony, not very interesting.

11) Beef

A remake of the cut “What’s Beef” by Notorious BIG, oddly enough a subliminal diss track toward 50 Cent and rappers who ride 2pac’s dick (Pac should be pissed/50percent of the niggas suckin his dick is *****/) and references to 50’s shooting and the battle with D12.

12) Bomb 1st

Unrelated to the 2pac track, another i wasn’t really feeling, however more imagininative than ‘Gangsta.’ Details instructions to a successful murder, but still a bit monotone.

13) Everybody Goes 

Another good, creepy beat, Royce being more aggressive but still not very refreshing.

14) Death is Certain pt. 2 (It Hurts)

YES! The break in the monotony, the title track and one of the best cuts. Another excellent track; Nickel Nine raps about his homie gettin shot and dealing with his distress and the man’s moms. Very emotional track, again one of the best tracks on here.

15) Something’s Wrong With Him 

A very emotional, bitter track about how everyone seems to have a problem with Royce and the affect the stress has on his family life.

 

Overall: 3.5/5

Royce has the potential to drop a classic album, but he tries to tackle more than he’s ready for here and near the end of the CD his energy seems burned out. Through that, and the needless gangsta tracks, Royce does deliver some gems and has more versatility and thought than half the rappers–no, 75% of the rappers in the game right now. No matter the shortcomings, still one of the best albums of 2003 next to Kanye’s College Dropout. Due to the fact that the album was mostly produced by one guy, a lot of the beats will have the same style which can get boring–even though a handful are great. Give the man some funding, and some more renowned producers (RZA, for example, would do a great track for Royce; so would Kanye West or Alchemist) and the man will have a great CD. My advice: Cop this here; we’ll be seein a lot more of Royce in the months to come.

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