Royce Da 5'9" :: The Revival EP :: MIC/One Records
as reviewed by John-Michael Bond

It's been a long road for Royce Da 5'9. From partner to Eminem and next on deck at Aftermath to being usurped by 50 Cent and beefing with his former bff, releasing a string of promising records that went nowhere and trying to bring rhinestones into hip hop things have not been easy for the Detroit rapper. Thanks to recent buzz surrounding his membership in super group Slaughterhouse, alongside Joe Budden, Crooked I, and Joell Ortiz, Royce is back to prove himself once more with "The Revival." With just a small teaser EP of four tracks heralding his upcoming "Street Hop" album, Da 5'9 makes it abundantly clear that his vicious rhymes and brutal swagger have only been made stronger by years of adversity.

Kicking off with a "Guns Harmonizing" Royce spends three minutes and fifteen seconds spitting, scatting, and threatening everyone within a million mile radius. Interestingly the production on the track by Emile is deeply reminiscent of Eminem's own track work in the last few years, replete with playful piano keys and almost rock drums programming. Anyone looking to claim the title of "Best Rapper Alive" should be aware that Royce has you in his sights, regardless of if you even exist yet.

"The best rapper alive could be the best/rapper that died, murderous/If you ain't get it by now I'm suicidal/I'm wild, a nigga better than me is who I ain't heard of yet/So I ain't murdered yet/He ain't even been born, his momma's a/virgin, she ain't even furtile yet."

The album's killer one two punch opening tracks are completed with "Count For Nothing" featuring a strong RZA influence on the production and more hunger from Detroit's underdog.

"I'm the king of the backpackers /This T-bone contact to any wack rapper /It's biometric how I wet ya /My dialect's an entire weapon, it's set to just fire reckless /BLAP! Like {"one-two"} guns swoop /In the same booth the federales tryin to run through /Like, like {"three-four"} we raw /Me and Vishis tradin like a triple beam seesaw /I'm a veteran, the mac-11 the pump /You could name whoever you want /Wayne... Yay... Jay /Hahaha, I'm just playin wit 'em..."

The desire to be the greatest is an all encompassing pursuit for Royce, and even friendship and crew loyalty can't stop him from taking on all contenders, no matter how close they might be. /"I'm the right-on truth /And that's right, I'm even plottin on my own crew /Joey... Crooked... Ortiz /Slaughterhouse!"

It's a rare rapper who can pimp his own projects while making sure those involved know even they're in his sights when it comes to being number one. Of course to make sure listeners known there are no hard feelings the whole Slaughterhouse crew shows up for the next track "Warriors" and lays down the same lyrical fire each artist has become infamous for on the mix tape circuit. A hodgepodge of references to the '70s flick of the same name and uncompromising arrogance, the track highlights everyone's skills without overshadowing the man of the hour. It's nice to see a crew made up of pure fire and not just a big name rapper's friends from back home who he promised an album spot to.

If anything the record closes weak, but only by the standards of the material that came before it. "Street Hop 2010" brings an Indian music inflected sample beat and more piss and bravado. While metaphors like syphilis nun chucks and the line "If I gave a fuck this is where the hook would go" make this almost three minute track good, by Royce's own standards it's straight bars with no chorus flow seems lacking after the great use of traditional song structures to build street narratives he drops on the rest of this EP. If this is any indication of what "Street Hop" is going to be like "The Revival" will be more than just an EP Royce Da 5'9 dropped, it'll be the title of the second chapter of the man's career.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10

Originally posted: August 11, 2009