At his most vulnerable moment, Royce Da 5’9 released the greatest album of his career, Death Is Certain. After a falling out with former friend and collaborator, Eminem, Royce was a broken man, watching his chance to blow up slip right through his fingers. These events compelled him to write some of his most honest, self-examining music ever; a change from the usual fantasies that many other rappers regularly indulge in. But while Death Is Certain was an album with a gray cloud looming over it, it also marked a new beginning for Royce. It showed that he didn’t need Eminem to make great music, and as he suggests later on his new LP, those events needed to happen to get to this point. With old beefs squashed and the signing of his Slaughterhouse crew to Shady Records, Royce predicts that Success Is Certain.
Yet with Success Is Certain acting as a sequel to his most critically lauded LP, it would seem that this LP would delve more into the introspective side of things, like it’s predecessor. We all know that Royce can body virtually any track he touches, as he does on the abrasive album opener “Legendary”, it’s follow-up track, “Writer’s Block” and later on “Where My Money”. But given the majority of the album’s overly abrasive production, it’s almost overkill, as it’s coming off hot off the heals of his Bad Meets Evil collaborative record with Em, where the duo rapped circles around each other for 10+ songs – and over better beats.
There are introspective moments on this LP, such as “Merry Go Round”, where Royce amazingly recounts his fallout with the Shady/Aftermath camp, over more headcracking production: “Then I went from writin’ for Dre / To wonderin’ if my head was on straight / on the sidelines, feelin’ I forgot about listenin’ to “Forgot About Dre” / From there I went to about a bottle a day / Tellin’ who we know “Get outta my face!” / okay I know what Kino said about Dre / I look at Kino to this day / like that was a stupid mistake / But if it wasn’t for him doin that, what would I be doin today? / If it wasn’t for Ca$his sayin’ that he gonna beat my ass / Then me and Em prob’ly wouldn’t be laughin bout us gettin past it / If it wasn’t for me bein outcasted I woulda never been on the underground rappin wit…. SLAUGHTERHOUSE!” Get ‘em, Royce.
On a more somber note, “Security” is the album’s most somber note, and overall, it’s best track. This song is the closest thing to something that one might hear on the original Death Is Certain, as he delivers his perspective on the death D12 member, Proof. This is followed by the requisite DJ Premier track, “Second Place”; and while it’s not quite “Boom”, it still delivers.
All in all, Success Is Certain is a pretty solid LP, despite some over-the-top production, and at times, shallow subject matter. As a sequel to Death Is Certain, he could have eased back and given us some more insight on the man behind the microphone. But we doubt this will halt his chances for success….
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