I feel like “Book of Ryan” was the album that Royce Da 5’9 was born to make. Never the first option when it comes to assembling a hip hop super team, Royce has grinded his way to rap relevance by writing some of the most jaw-dropping verses in the game these last couple of years. I feel like listeners are finally starting to take notice of what he’s been doing rapping-wise, and with this new 21 track project, he looks to make his argument for top 5 in the game; do you think “Book of Ryan” buffers his case?
5. SUMMER ON LOCK
Ya”ll rappers can have the summer on lock all you want, but when fall comes around, please hand over the keys to some R&B dudes.
You know what’s funny? “Summer on Lock” sounds a lot like “Summer on Smash” by Nas, as it also has this 90’s feel attached to it. Much like Nas did on his track, Royce Da 5’9 uses this song as an opportunity to take swings at his competition through these cocky ass bars. Based off his rapping ability, I think it’s wise to ignore those jabs if you think they are directed at you.
There are three pretty good features on this song: Pusha is on the hook, giving the track this gritty sound; Jadakiss has the second verse, and as usual, he puts n***as onto game through a couple of wise bars; and Fabolous closes the song out sounding ‘slick’ and ‘sly’, gliding through his verse with some phenomenal punchlines.
I love how Royce gathered every single artist that has been underrated in the game all on one song. Do you think that was his intentions?
4. STAY WOKE
I love “Stay Woke!” It has lots of soul, real ass subject matters, and this slow-paced rhythm to it that allows you to clearly hear every bar Royce spits. Don’t get me wrong, you still get crazy punchlines and stout wordplay from him on the track, as he tries to put into words the trials and tribulations that come with walking in his shoes.
I had to double check and see if Dr. Dre produced this s**t. Apparently it wasn’t him, it was his protege S1. Regardless, the production on this song reminds me of some “Chronic 2001” s**t.
Isn’t the Cali influenced production perfect for Royce Da 5’9 to rap over? Something about it brings out the pep in his step, which prompts him to speak his mind about a couple of s**t he sees going on in the industry. As a result, Royce drops this big disrespectful verse. Ya’ll should’ve cut the head of the snake (the beat) when you had the chance.
Boogie (Not A Boogie Wit The Hoodie) has the second verse, and he provides the track with something gutter. Believe it or not, I think he fits the track more than Royce does, as he pumps a little bit of soul into it.
This song just reminded me of something: When the f**k is “Detox” coming out?
2. BOBLO BOAT
Have you seen J. Cole lately? his hair looks like a bunch of tangled up USB cords now.
J. Cole and Royce Da 5’9 are rap GOD’s at this point, and they sure do act like it on “Boblo Boat.” Not only do they drop some of the realest bars you’ve ever heard in your life over this smooth/old school instrumental, but their bars come out so easily on their respective verses. I like the storytelling that both J. Cole and Royce give us on their parts, and absolutely love how they close out their bars.
The light skins are definitely taking over the world right now
Bad vs. Evil is back, and they are as lyrical as they’ve ever been!
Have I ever told ya’ll how good of a rapper Royce Da 5’9 and Eminem are? It’s rather astonishing. Anyway, “Caterpillar” is a lot of fun, as both Detroit legends spit some hefty bars over this carnival-like beat. What I love most about this song is that both rappers spit with this loosey goosey style, tearing the beat down into a decimal when it’s all said and done. Just to let you know, a decimal is small as s**t.
Don’t you love how King Green sounds like a fan on the hook in-between both rapper’s verses? Who wouldn’t be in awe if you were in the studio hearing each dude drop their bars in person?
Man, I took Bad Vs. Evil for granted.
BTW, Logic’s version of the track is also fire, as he drops this long ass verse that has him defending both of his races feverishly.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. INTRO (N/A)
2. WOKE (4.7/5)
3. MY PARALLEL (SKIT) (N/A)
4. CATERPILLAR (5/5)
5. GOD SPEED (4.4/5)
6. DUMB (4.6/6)
7. WHO ARE YOU (SKIT) (N/A)
8. COCAINE (4.5/5)
9. LIFE IS FAIR (4/5)
10. BOBLO BOAT (5/5)
11. LEGENDARY (3.8/5)
12. SUMMER ON LOCK (4.5/5)
13. AMAZING (4.1/5)
14. OUTSIDE (3.8/5)
15. POWER (4/5)
16. PROTECTING RYAN (SKIT) (N/A)
17. STRONG FRIEND (4.3/5)
18. ANYTHING/EVERYTHING (3.9/5)
19. STAY WOKE (4.9/5)
20. FIRST OF THE MONTH (4.5/5)
21. CATERPILLAR (REMIX) (5/5)
It’s so hard to write reviews for albums like this. How many different ways can I say Royce Da 5’9 came with the realness on his verses? How many more times am I going to talk about how unbelievable the flows he raps with are? Royce Da 5’9 is clearly the epitome of a great rapper, and quite honestly, I’m a bit angry with myself that I didn’t realize this until 2017. Well Royce said it himself on the intro, he doesn’t believe in someone being in or out of their prime, so maybe he’s got a lot more in the tank.
It’s clear that Royce’s ability to overcome alcohol abuse has made him both a better rapper and person. He talks about it throughout, and if I were to guess, it’s the reason why he sounds like one of the most focused rappers in the game right now. Believe it or not, this aspect works to his detriment when it comes to mass appeal. Believe me, I am just as appreciative as anyone else when it comes to strong lyrical content, but I understand when listeners consider music like Royce’s a bit insipid. He doesn’t sing much on the album, he isn’t rapping over trap beats, and his lyrical content isn’t in line with what all these other Lil whatever’s are rapping about nowadays. That is why this album will be overlooked, and probably won’t outsell Lil Yachty’s latest project. But I’ll tell you this: If you want to hear an album that has some cinematic beats, unbelievable rap mechanics, and inspirational lyrics, l recommend you stream this project.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.