If the happy ending to the much chronicled story of Royce da 5’9″ was his reunion with Eminem, the emcee now moves into the sequel stage of this novel. From ghostwriting for Dr. Dre, to prison, to his alliance with Slaughterhouse, the faith in Detroit’s recognised son hasn’t been deserted by his long-time admirers and this year has shown why. Whilst the emphatic performances on his Bad Meets Evil EP with Slim Shady have catapulted 5’9″ back into the radar of critics and fans who seek material away from the underground, Success Is Certain aims to maintain the emcee’s current momentum.
A real student of the art form Royce opens with an archetypal rhyme boasting of his greatness. “Legendary” opens Success Is Certain, co-produced by Eminem and drummer Travis Barker. Steering towards the latter’s more recognisable sound, the rock heavy opener sees 5’9″ tear into the track, peppered with Jay-Z sound bites, which even inspires the rapper to borrow some lines from Jigga. Carrying on from where he left off on the Bad Meets Evil project, Royce goes in with fiery, flow switching performances, revitalising his claims as being one of the best.
“Writer’s Block” featuring Eminem offers another emphatic lyrical display and scoffing at the overused cliches which you can find in about 70% of rappers rhymes. Coming from the same mould of emcee as Em as well as his Slaughterhouse affiliates, the towering D Town supremo ensures explosive bars are the show stealer on the album, leaving production secondary.
Royce da 5’9″ ft. Eminem – “Writer’s Block”:
With the score being handled by numerous beatsmiths, the impact of Royce’s consistent offerings are brought down at times by the quality of some of the instrumentals on hand. “ER” for instance offers up some pretty decent (if somewhat cliched) ‘I Am Hip Hop’s Resurrector’ rhymes alongside Kid Vichis, but is let down by an overcooked Streetrunner beat. Another minor irk comes in Royce also following his long time friend Eminem’s penchant for singing his own choruses which gets tiresome especially when adding these vocals to dope offerings.
“I Ain’t Coming Down” explores the numerous obstacles the rapper has faced (from his feud with D12 to his stagnated success) yet his attempt at handling the hook dents the marvellous futuristic soundscape offered. But as mentioned before, it’s the ease in which Royce da 5’9″ handles verses which impresses so much. Retelling the hostile relationship he had with the late Proof on “Security” injects much honesty and soul into his offering and, teaming up once again with DJ Premier on “Second Place,” highlights him as one of the current emcees who can rock a Preemo production tremendously.
Sounding much like a sequel to his 2004 Death Is Certain LP, Royce da 5’9″ finds himself in a far better place than seven years ago and this album is the proof. Sounding more confident and assured, 5’9″ commandeers tracks with the authority and vigour of an emcee who believes they’re the best. Long time fans of the Bad Meets Evil co-founder will be more than satisfied with the effort (not to mention this being his second release of the year). Whilst he isn’t the first dope rhymer to be blessed with inconsistent beats, he definitely is one of a few who is seemingly unable to drop a bad verse. Success Is Certain just may very well to prove to be the appropriate phrase for one of the standout performers this year.