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It seems like ever since we lost Guru, DJ Premier has pulled back on the amount of beats he’s producing for folks. It’s hard to imagine there was a time when Preem would produce entire LP’s for people – not just Gang Starr, but also affiliated acts like Jeru The Damaja and Group Home. Of course those albums laid the blueprint for the second stage of Premier’s career as a producer, which would find him being the go-to-guy for bigger rappers when they wanted that one “underground” cut for their albums. But he never turned his back on the actual underground; one such collaboration would bring us to this moment now, teaming with Royce Da 5’9 for 1999′s “Boom” single on Jonathan Shecter’s Game Records.

PRyhme is not the first album Premier has produced for one rapper since Gang Starr’s final LP, 2002′s The Ownerz, as there was The Kolexxxion with Bumpy Knuckles in 2012. However this does feel like the first chapter in perhaps a long new volume in both the careers of Royce and Preemo, as it succeeds on many levels. The sound here is different than what we may be used to from Preem, as he has used one sample source – the music of Adrian Younge – for the entirety of the LP. This gives the album a very unified sound that is very much an amalgamation of both producers’ respective styles. While Premier has said that he would like to use Younge again on another PRhyme LP, the question remains if it would start to bleed into too familiar territory with beats built around sounds that Souls of Mischief and Ghostface already rapped over. But as arguably the greatest producer of all time, Preem can likely easily avoid that.

But Royce makes it clear that he’s not really looking to fill the void left by Gang Starr’s departure, stating “And this is for the real hip-hop niggas who will never ever ever ask me am I here to replace Guru” on “U Looz.” He always been one to pull the curtain back and speak on the uncomfortable subjects, much like his Bad Meets Evil partner, Eminem. He addresses a newfound sobriety on the title track, where he reveals “Marshall said that I’d be a problem if I get my shit right / That if is probably the biggest ‘if’ I ever live by / Which is why I’m known as an underachiever, I just skip by / I needed to be inebriated to prevent me from getting shy.”

Royce plays with language in a way that sounds better in your ear than it reads off the printed page, as songs like “You Should Know” (featuring Dwele) and “Courtesy” just feature him flexing his lyrical muscles. The bar is raised high, as he enlists plenty of like-minded individuals to compete on these Preemo tracks, and most everybody brings their A game. Jay Electronica absolutely destroys his verse on “To Me, To You,” while Killer Mike and Schoolboy Q spar with Royce for the top spot on “Underground Kings.” The evolving “Wishin’” with Common also shines, as Royce and Com adapt to Preem’s sporadic tempo changes. There’s also “Microphone Preem,” with Slaughterhouse, the title a nod to Eric B. & Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend,” from which it takes its drums (so along with the cuts, maybe Adrian isn’t the only sample source.)

The guest verses are mostly all great and help jam pack this LP with memorable moments, but it does feel like the inclusion of these guests was in part to help finish the album quickly and stay away from heavier topical songs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if there is a downside to PRhyme, it is that it is too short. While it would be hard to take an entire album of lyrical miracles, Royce knows when to open up, it’s just too bad there isn’t a little bit more of that here. No matter, the group has already announced an expanded edition of the album with 3 to 5 new tracks, one to feature MF Doom.

That being said, Royce and Preem have put together a very solid opening salvo to what hopefully is a much longer career as a group. Both members are equally yoked in terms of their respective talents, so them linking for a project like this is simply a no-brainer. Hopefully PRyme continues far into the future, with consecutive albums digging deeper into the groove found here.

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10 Responses to "DJ Premier & Royce Da 5’9 – “PRhyme” – @@@@ [Review]"
  • Battlehound says:

    Haven’t heard the album yet but can’t wait. Anyone know a good place to buy vinyl these days?

  • D.G says:

    @ Battlehound, if you are in the new england area check out Newbury Comics for the Vinyl

    In terms of the Album…. Very dope and Royce just sounds so refreshed and focused!!

  • AndyDass says:

    Really good lp love the coheisive sound of the samples used. I agree wished their were more tracks like Phtyme were he gets personal. I also don’t mind the short length when every track is a banga!

  • WuBrotha#1 says:

    Great album. Great review. Looks like I’ll have to purchase it again once the deluxe drops with the bonus tracks. Can’t wait to hear the track ft. Doom. Curious how that link up occurred.

  • Chad says:

    good album, not legendary by any means, but better than anything on a major label, 4 is just right

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