Release Date: Apr 15, 2016
Record label: N/A
Royce 5’9” has been busy in the last five years as one-half of the explosive duo PRhyme and a quarter of the supergroup Slaughterhouse. However, before now he hadn’t released a solo album since 2011’s Success is Certain. Well, the wait is over, and it’s time to peel back the Layers to see what it’s worth. Having previously stated that this album is the first “layer” of many that will be revealed this year, the thematic nature itself finds Royce revealing his complexity as a man and an artist.
Royce Da 5’9 is a rapper from cracked pavement of Detroit, Michigan, a rapper who has made a name for himself in the hip-hop community by consistently providing thought provoking bars, palpable rap narratives, and a unique style of delivery that differentiates him from the stylistics of many contemporary rappers. Royce’s take on the hip-hop aesthetic is reminiscent of the street dialogues of Nas, Eminem, and Pusha T: hard, abrasive, and quick-witted verses that flaunt the lyrical finesse of the MC, a style of MCing which has generated an ongoing debate as to who holds the crown for top dog MC. Royce has collaborated with Eminem, DJ Premier, and numerous other artists who deeply value the art of the lyrical MC, an artform which many argue, particularly Royce himself, has dissipated from the forefront of the hip-hop conscience.
Coming hot on the heels of his Trust the Shooter mixtape, Layers is a varied and ambitious LP from Royce da 5'9", the Slaughterhouse and Bad Meets Evil MC who found some time for his solo career in 2016. Good thing too, as the heavy-hitting social commentary of "America" is an example of Royce in the spotlight and exceeding expectations, while the title cut finds Pusha T and Rick Ross climbing aboard a song where the Detroit MC is undoubtedly the ringleader. Sweetening the deal is the cutting-edge production from superstar beatmakers like Mr.
After more than two decades in the rap game, Detroit's Royce 5'9" (aka Royce Da 5'9") has often been celebrated for his guest verses and collaborations, while his solo efforts are met with tepid reception. It's a narrative that Royce sets out to rewrite on his new LP, Layers, as he makes clear over the skittering percussion and downcast keys of opening track "Tabernacle," where he spits: "Recovering alcoholic, I grew up on 9 Mile / I'm not a gangster / Just an MC who made a name with his rhyme style. " That combination of confidence and candid vulnerability is one of Royce's many unique strengths on this sturdy album.
Royce 5’9” (formerly Royce da 5’9”) has done a lot of his most visible rapping as a plus-one. His first appearance for many was on Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP as one half of Bad Meets Evil on a song of the same name. He caught his second wind years later as one of the senior members of the major label castoff Voltron that is Slaughterhouse (with Joe Budden, Crooked I, and Joell Ortiz).
When Royce da 5’9” dropped his last solo album, Success Is Certain, in 2011, the rapper was staking his claim in the game. Five years later, Nickel Nine continues his forward momentum with the release of his latest LP, Layers. Royce isn’t known for breaking records with his releases, but when those projects drop, the respect is earned. Success Is Certain received critical acclaim when it dropped in addition to his DJ Premier joint release PRhyme, one of the best albums of 2015.