PRhyme Records
PRhyme Records

In 2018, hip-hop's generational gap is seemingly wider and deeper than ever before: You're either all vibes and slurred rhymes or lyrical-miracle traditionalist. The stereotypes—clearly hyperbolic, if not dangerous—position participants of the same culture in opposition. You might think DJ Premier and Royce 5’9"’s deadly rap duo PRhyme would stand firmly with the purists. But many forget that PRhyme's self-titled 2014 project had a strong modern edge, even as Preemo's slapping boom-bap and Royce's mind-blowing punchlines recalled Golden Era excellence. That same contemporary appeal returns on their second offering PRhyme 2an exciting 17-track rap rollercoaster that has potential to become a millennial favorite.

After Premier’s short 30-second intro, the album kicks off with “Black History,” which doesn’t open like a typical Preemo beat. Instead of scratches and soul samples, the veteran producer serves up rousing strings that get the heart pumping in the same way that an opening scene in an action flick might do. Royce details his own backstory before a mid-song beat switch inspires him to shift to Gang Starr’s inspiring beginnings and PRhyme’s immaculate inception. “Y'all are the past, at the present time I'm the Future/Cause all my competition tryna be Desiigners,” Royce rhymes, just one of a series of rewind-worthy metaphors and similes.

Despite PRhyme 2 being twice as long as its nine-track predecessor, Premier never defaults to redundant sounds. From start to finish, the smorgasbord of beats range from traditionally grimy to something Lil Uzi Vert might feel comfortable tackling. “1 of the Hardest” loops a head-banging guitar riff, “Era” uses twinkly synths that rapidly alternate between left and right speaker channels, “Flirt” sports a classic New York bassline and chorus that nods to Camp Lo's "Luchini"—and that’s just to name a few of the album's different flavors.

While Premier breathes new life into his proven boom-bap formula, Royce keeps his subject matter familiar, which is a bit of a letdown but ultimately expected. Over the years, Royce has put so much of his personal life on wax already. Still, he shares some candid moments on songs like “My Calling,” on which he opens up with some jarring confessions. “Breakin' a misses heart with her sister and maid of honor/She's conflicted 'cause she watches me go out in the streets and lose the very same respect she witnessed me make and honor/And I got all this stuff, but I'm stuck being alcoholic, bruh/Therefore I'm all mixed up, like Aunt Jemima."

Royce directly references the aforementioned rift between hip-hop generations on "Everyday Struggle," a track named for the Complex debate show on which his Slaughterhouse partner Joe Budder has notoriously clashed with younger artists like Migos and Lil Yachty. "I had nightmares of Joe Budden arguing with Lil' Yachty," he opens, as he seeks a resolution for the divide between age groups. "Division between artists, party until we sorry that we partin'/That young man the same age my son is/He just on fire right now, same way that my gun is."

For the most part, Royce tailors his bars on this album to inspire the Funkmaster Flex screwface with every line. He boasts big on the Yelawolf-assisted “W.O.W.” (“My rifle kick back when it get blazed in the sky/I'm a classic, I get dressed playin' Aquemini/Don't do some shit to get your wifey kidnapped/Have you on Twitter beggin' for your bitch back like Sage Gemini/Why these niggas gettin' their hair dyed and they nails polished/I'm like Biggie and Pac trapped inside of Big L's body”) and gets menacingly imaginative with his threats on “Rock It” (“I write for Sean Price and Dilla, my mic is Thriller/My ratchet blows, it's trappin' souls like Bryson Tiller/They sprayed the crib, left lead in the awnings/And that's the very thing that gets me out the bed in the mornin'").

Musically and lyrically, PRhyme 2 holds its own next to its precursor. There's something for everyone here—Premier's production is diverse and tuneful while Royce pushes the bounds of his imagination with impressive wordplay. Win-win.

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