x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Royce da 5'9: Success Is Certain

With lyrical smarts and superb mic-skills, Royce manages with this album to seduce listeners to join him in his sometimes dark world.

Royce da 5'9
Success Is Certain
(Gracie Productions)
***

Royce da 5'9 should have been a superstar by now. Instead, he remains a gifted rapper at the margins. Known for his superb mic skills and lyrics both witty and poignant, he built an underground buzz in the mid-1990s alongside fellow Detroit natives Eminem and D12. But bad business decisions, coupled with a self-destructive attitude, saw the industry heavyweights cut ties with Royce, while his local competition Eminem rose to the hip-hop stratosphere. However, with his fifth album, Success Is Certain, Royce is back on the recovery trail. No longer interested in starting beefs, the artist focuses all his energy on producing one of his most consistent offerings yet. With this taut collection, which includes guest appearances by Eminem, the Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and DJ Premiere, Royce voices his displeasure at the state of the hip-hop industry. And while some rappers claim they arrived to save hip-hop, Royce makes it clear he's more interested in collecting every penny before the genre's eventual demise. In the soul-fuelled Where's My Money, he slips into the role of a landlord who throws hip-hop down the stairs, claiming "your rent's due". On the flip side, Royce's penchant for recalling his troubled past on most tracks can border on excessive self-flagellation; you find yourself wishing he could just lighten up sometimes. But with his lyrical smarts and superb mic-skills, Royce manages to seduce listeners to enter his dark world.

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