Review Summary: Return of the boom bap, 2014
DJ Premier and Royce da 5'9 have always had tremendous chemistry together. Given the slew of absolute bangers and bonafide jams they have put out in the past (see "Hip Hop", "Boom", "Hood Love", "Something 2 Ride 2"), PRhyme was a duo in the making for over a decade. Combining Premo's crisp, hard-hitting boom bap and Royce's smooth delivery, they are nearly Gang Starr reincarnated (the homie Royce even look like Guru). But I digress, as Royce himself has expressed publicly he isn't trying to replace the late Guru in this collaboration project. Regardless of his intentions, it is admirable and very pleasant to see Premo once again link up so well with another MC whose style compliments his production perfectly.
Gang Starr comparisons aside, PRhyme is a nice return to form for DJ Premier. He had recently been guilty of uninspired beats with an odd cartoonish bounce rejected rightly so by everyone from Immortal Technique to Jay-Z. Foregoing the Hanna-Barbera vibes and ridiculously grandiose thumps, Premier instead provides a backdrop best described as soulful, reserved, melodic, and brooding. Utilizing Adrian Younge samples, the instrumentals match Royce and supporting casts' barrage of witty punchlines, pop culture references, and hyperbolic braggadocio. His input isn't excessively bombastic nor does it override the vocals as so often has been the case in recent times.
Of course, PRhyme's production is only one half of its winning formula. Royce da 5'9 remains as humorous and thought-provoking as ever. Calmly delivering a range of quotables and double entendres (All these hugs and kissy emoji's killing my foe, G/ These bitches just ain't right, can't even kiss them in their mouths, too many dicks been their diets), he manages to garner plenty of chuckles from the listener and duly impress as an MC. While his lyricism fails to follow a consistent theme and is a rather random assortment of brags and boasts, it is a pleasant throwback to the classic battle rap rhymes so embedded in hip hop culture.
PRhyme also features guest verses from a diverse array of rappers. Ab-Soul, coming off the disappointing "These Days", alludes his impeccable hustle game and ambition to that of a crack dealer on "Dat Sound Good". Mac Miller, also on "Dat Sound Good", satirizes 2Pac's revered classic "Brenda's Got a Baby" by unapologetically claiming he sold Brenda's baby to a gay couple. Common remains as uplifting as ever on "Wishin'", whereas Killer Mike adds to his already hefty frame by eating up "Underground Kings".
PRhyme is a collaboration and experiment done right. Combining the freshest batch of beats Premo has created in a long time and Royce Da 5'9's always inspired rapping, PRhyme ecstatically sets the bar for all underground hip hop releases coming out in 2015.