Death Is Certain – Royce Da 5/9

Label: Koch

With four labels and just one full length album to his credit you could expect Royce Da 5’9” to have more than a little beef with folks in the industry but Royce is making a bit of a career out of it. Sure, he’s had his fights. Sure he’s had his gun charges, what’s new, this is how you earn your stripes in the fathomless pit of misogyny and bravado that is Hip Hop. But to take umbrage with those who helped put you in the place you are, is one helluva beef scare indeed. But this is Royce Da 5’9”. He’s finished fannin’ flames for everyone else and is braced for some heavyweight success of his own.

Familiar to some for his collaboration with Eminem on ‘Bad Meets Evil’ on The Slim Shady LP (having already recorded ‘Scary Movies’ together) and to others for his contribution to Dr. Dre’s, Chronic 2001 album, ‘Death Is Certain’ is a dark but far from gloomy little travelogue of hardship. With a smooth (but not slick) soundbank of devices that include strings, piano, nylon guitar, theramin and some thick, solid beats ‘Death Is Certain’ stalks the shadowy underbelly of spirituality and urban morality. It’s as deep as it is wide and the dub elements in tracks like ‘Gangsta’ provide the kind of terse theology that used to grace everything from Marley to the Gladiators. It’s not biblical exactly, but it is deeply contemplative and self-probing.

These are definitely scars with stories. To call it transcendental might be pushing it a little, but it certainly moves beyond the underworld. And it’s chill. Very chill..

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Release: Royce Da 5/9 - Death Is Certain
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Released: 26 March 2004