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Royce Da 5’9”, Success Is Certain

“Better later than never” has applied to few more aptly than Royce Da 5’9”. Public discord with co-conspirator Eminem, ghost writing controversies and jail time gave the Detroit MC’s career more false starts than a deaf track athlete. Unfazed, Royce joined forces with Crooked I, Joe Budden and Joell Ortiz—all lyrically outstanding outcasts in their own right—to form Slaughterhouse. The crew and its members eventually clawed their way back to the majors with to a heavily hyped deal with Shady Records, resuscitating Royce’s decades-long partnership with Marshall in the process. Now experiencing a career renaissance courtesy of his first chart-topping album, Hell: The Sequel, alongside Slim Shady, Nickel Nine drops his latest opus, Success Is Certain.

Far removed from the depressively dark overtones of its 2004 prequel Death Is Certain, Success finds a revitalized Royce more focused than ever before, and that vigor is evident from the album’s jumpoff, “Legendary.” Anchored by Travis Barker’s frenetic drums the rock-tinged track fuels Royce’s aggressively relaxed bars, as he spits, “You can find me under a black cloud, I’m a dark star/Only thing I hate worse than a mark is a marked car,” before trading ferocious bars with his Bad Meets Evil compatriot on the haunting “Writer’s Block.”

Maybe influenced by Marshall himself, Royce has learned to channel his loquacious voracity into a controlled rage, and the end result is perhaps his most complete body of work. From the autobiographical double-time spit of “Merry Go Round” to the social commentary of hip-hop’s state of affairs on “Where My Money,” there is rarely a dull moment on Success Is Certain. Equal parts introspection and braggadocio, this is Royce at his finest hour. He puts it best on the DJ Premier-produced “Second Place”: “Oh my god, I was just in jail/Then the devil caught pneumonia, and it made me sick as hell.” —Meka Udoh

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  • jesterxxl

    XXL is gettin ridicolous they ride dick too much no I’m not a hater I’ma huge Royce fan but this was his softest effort on some ep/mixtape level.
    Check the last issue Legendary Weapons got L for beats, XL for lyrics & L for originality all round they getta L but Bad Meets Evil exactly the same but adds up to a XL… Get the fuck outta here plus Pete Rock & SmifnWessun got XL for beats, lyrics & L for originality they end up with a L.


    • jimmyjam

      they gave wu an l because they are wu. xxl judge a lot of artists by their own standard. wus new album is dope but its not tht dope if u judge it by wu standard. this album here however is soft as a motherfucker, ive seen this day coming since last year, ive witnessed royce go from raw as hell to softer tha jelly thanks to eminem, hes went ems way of using crappy punchlines and soft lyrics. hell probably start pandering to 12 year old girls now to. eminem is not a good influence

    • http://www.xxlmag.com RAp Lover

      Dude get tha fuck outta here, Royce got a higher rating in Originality than tha Wu’s Legendary Weapons. Thats why he got a betta rating. This is one of Royce’s strongest effort in my opinion anyway, even tho i do like Wu Tang’s new album also…but he got a betta rating because he got a better originality rating dumbass

      • jimmyjam

        da fuck u talkin bout fool, the only reason u think this h=is his best effort is cos hes wi em now. take the mother fuckers dick out ur mouth this shit was weak. and original were the fuck is tht comin from, how anything on this shit original. i doubt uve even listened to royce previous shit. dickriding mofo.

        • http://www.xxlmag.com RAp Lover

          Dude I’m a pre Shady fan, so GTFOH with that crap. I been bumpin Royce since tha beginning so chill with that

        • Lawrence

          Royce has been with Em for years.. so what are you saying..

  • D90

    royce nd em dont trade bars on writers block… eminem is only on the hook… did yall listen to this album at all… im a big royce fan nd even ill admit this album isnt a XL

    • studley lush

      So much bullshit in these comments but yes, I totally agree, ‘trading bars’ my ass. The fact that Em didn’t rap a verse is noteworthy, makes you wonder how much these reviewers actually listen to the album. And to all the haters with plenty to say just a few days after it’s release, this is stuff that takes time, spins, attention before you can truly know how good it is.

  • http://xxl biged

    royce is just a victim of being on a shitty record label that dont give a fuck about beats. lyrically this album is fire its just them beats man. hes a free agent now bet it wont happen next time.

    • jimmyjam

      he chose those beats fool,all him stopblaming the record label when shit sucks the beats wern even tht bad. and u obviosuly are a post recovery fan if u think this was fire.

      • hippaToDaHoppa

        He can only pick beats that the label will pay for.

        • http://justgooglevibe45 Vibe45

          And How would you know that the label pick the beats? Are you in the industry? Stfu then!! He picked those beats if the industry picked em you’d here a differnt sound.

  • http://xxl biged

    im still bumpin death is certain. everybody should give that another listen. one of the most underrated lp’s of all time!!!


    I got this album a couple days ago. There is no way this is an XL. Not a chance. His last album “Street Hop” was so much harder than this. XXL never gives a good honest review

  • Hip Hop Addict

    Who Runs XXL?… Royce Is One Of My Fav Rappers But This Wasn’t That Great As Other Past Projects…

  • D-Lloyd

    I give it a 8/10, I liked the Album. I don’t know what the fuck yall talking bout. I also think that Death is Certain is overrated, he’s more lyrical now than he was then.

  • http://thefrogblogg.wordpress.com TheFrogBlogg

    Full Disclosure: I’m probably one of the biggest Royce fans you will find.

    While I enjoy anything Royce puts out, I must admit there were a couple notable miscues that made me hesitant about this album.

    First is the inclusion of songs that were leaked a LOOOONG time ago. “My Own Planet, Writer’s Block, Where My Money” have all been available for some time and it was disappointing to see them included on an album so short.

    However, I realized that most people aren’t as dedicated to Royce as myself, so they probably haven’t heard these songs, and they are good songs, so in the long run it doesn’t really hurt the album for the casual listener, just diehard fans.

    The second thing that irked me up on first listen was the complete change of direction Royce took on this album. It honestly doesn’t sound anything like his other work and that’s bittersweet because it leads to some songs being much catchier and radio friendly but also displays a side of Royce I don’t like. Some of the songs seemed forced, rushed or just not up to the standard he has set, which is depressing.

    Finally, I encourage anybody who really gives a shit to check out the lyrics when listening. I can guarantee it will significantly alter your opinion on the album.

    At first, I was completely “meh” about the album, but once I dug deeper into the depth of the lyricism and meanings behind his lines, it lead to a much more enjoyable experience.

    Royce doesn’t make CD’s for the digital age, where people rush to review an album as quickly as possible without delving into the complexity of the music.

    Summary: After one listen, you might think this is a rushed or forced album with minimal replay value. If you put it down after a single listen you will be doing yourself a disservice because it gets exponentially better with each listen. Don’t judge this book by it’s cover, don’t read the sparks notes, don’t get the study guide, roll up a blunt, pull up the lyrics on your computer and just engulf yourself in a true lyrical experience.

    You’ll thank me later, no Aubrey.

  • Mob Hollows

    royce is trill-ill, and has been since bar exam 2. although i think that bar exam 3: most interesting man has better consistency, and is a more powerful disc when you listen to the punches thrown, i’m still excited about success is certain. i’ll openly admit that em probably influenced a lot of tracks on it, royce hasn’t come close to losing his touch. he’s just conforming a bit is all. the same way that every major artist does.

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  • FrankDuke

    Yo i’m tired of yall hating ass weirdos that dont know rap that was a great review in fact it could have been better first its not Royce fault that those hating claim to be a fan weirdos wanted to listen to every leak track that comes out when i purchase music keyword purchase i only know one song or two so before you weirdos go and hate because you already herd most of the songs stop downloading leaked music i mean he gave us a crazy ep in june and now a great lp and hes working on the slaughterhouse project what more do you impatient lames want he new song leaked thats why its 7.99 but most of u haters got it for free

  • FrankDuke

    Yeah go to hiphop dx they love it they gave it 4outta5

  • swype-matic

    A random independent album from Royce that I didn’t even know was coming out until I read a review YESTERDAY…if it is a “soft” album, that’s probably the reason.

  • imastunna303

    this is garbage and gets the same rating as WTT?

  • C Arthur Lane

    I thought this was a rather mild ‘attempt’, there were certain parts that I was impressed with… but overall I felt the success he had with Eminem overshadows this attempt. Which is sad because he had truly brilliant moments on the EP, if he was able to recreate those moments consistently he would have a place on EVERYONE’s playlist. Unfortunately, the one’s who are going to find this worth listening to in the long run are Royce’s pre-existing fan-base and those devoted to Eminem from back in the early 00′s. I hope he has another album coming out… to refine what he has already done.

  • triple09

    Guys he had 1 more album he had to put out to fulfill his contract on his old label, so he threw it together to get it over with his next solo album will be on Shady the Slaughterhouse record is gonna be epic