Out of Detroit, Michigan comes a hip-hop artist who has seen some things, has been there and done that, but after a long look in the mirror, Royce Da 5’9” has taken his game to another level. Adding some introspective ingredients to spice up his artistry, Royce has created what could potentially be one of the strongest hip-hop releases to date, with Friday, May 4th’s, release of Book of Ryan via Entertainment One/Heaven Studios, Inc.
Far too often in hip-hop, the status quo becomes boring and stale. There are only so many songs that people can listen to about “purple dranks” and “ratchets”; songs rife with repetitive lyrics clearly objectifying women and glorifying violence. Yet, here comes Royce to take rap back to where it belongs with thoughtful and whimsical wordplay, stripping his soul bare while telling stories of striving to be a better man and father.
Case in point, in the “Intro” track, Royce Da 5’9” makes the proclamation, “I woke up this morning and I decided to always believe in myself.” This line exemplifies Royce as a man that has grown up before our eyes and is resolving to do better after the things he has seen. This is a man that is focused and determined to turn the hip-hop game on its ear and to let the world know he is grateful for the blessings that have been bestowed upon him.
Check out the video for the single “Caterpillar” featuring Eminem and King Green.
After the brief song “Woke” and the skit entitled “Where's My Parallel”, the wordplay and the flow really bounces like an old-school mixtape in the fourth tune, “Caterpillar”. Illustrating the paradoxes people universally endure, Royce spouts, “Ring the alarm, the caterpillars are firing flying, we go where, the butterflies keep dying.” The song portrays the delicate balance of living the game in the streets of Detroit while trying to do the right thing. The collaborations with King Green and Eminem adds to that cred, and allows the latter to absolutely spit acapella fire for a good ten-to-fifteen seconds, while paying homage to his own creation of the epic “Rap God” song. Sometimes it just seems like Eminem will never run out of bars to spit.
“Dumb”, featuring Boogie, allows the listener to examine Royce’s conscience after he goes for quantity over quality in relationships. I love the shot that Boogie has towards mumble rappers, which would translate well in the freestyle game for which Detroit is nationally known.
“Boblo Boat”, featuring J. Cole, showcases the appreciation of having so little during the Reaganomics of the 1980s. The song allows the listener to imagine the humble joys of appreciating life at a run down amusement park while others were craving the expensive experiences of first rate attractions. It’s such a positive hook that highlights what the audience should value and appreciate; it brings home the idea that it’s not always about having the most expensive toys or the most beautiful girls.
Musically and lyrically, Book of Ryan tells stories of life after being abandoned by your father, and growing up to realize that you have to live with the consequences of your decisions. Royce also uses this fantastic album to bring hip-hop back to where it belongs; alongside breakdancers and people riding skateboards while hanging on to the biggest boomboxes money can buy.
Check out the video for “Boblo Boat” featuring J. Cole.
Book of Ryan Track Listing:
03. Where's My Parallel (skit)
04. Caterpillar (ft. King Green & Eminem)
05. God Speed (ft. Ashley Sorrell)
06. Dumb (ft. Boogie)
07. Who Are You" (skit)
09. Life Is Fair
10. Boblo (ft. J. Cole)
12. Summer On Lock (ft. Pusha T, Jadakiss, Fabolous)
13. Amazing (ft. Melanie Rutherford)
14. Outside (ft. Marsha Ambrosius & Robert Glasper)
16. Protecting Rya (skit)
17. Strong Friend
19. Stay Woke (ft. Ashley Sorrell)
20. First Of The Month (ft. T Pain & Chavis Chandler)