Monday, October 6, 2008
Royce Da 5' 9" "The Bar Exam 2"
The thing that constantly comes to mind when I listen to The Bar Exam 2 is Royce’s vocal tone. It’s scathing, biting, as though he took all of his pent up frustration and held it in, and then used it as motivation to spew forth some of the strongest lines ever directed towards the industrialization of Hip Hop.
But beyond sounding so serious, it proves the passion someone in Royce’s position has to have to still be in this game. After what seems like a continuous roller coaster ride of a career could Royce Da 5’9” finally have the focus he needs to get himself where he belongs - in the company of kings.
Jumping out the box loud and hard Royce and his younger brother Kid Vishis attack the mic, bringing that “Heat to the Streets.” Royce and his brother have excellent chemistry, so much so that it might prevent Vishis from escaping the shadow – with four features here I can’t think of one line that I’m sure it was him and not Royce spitting.
From here Royce runs through a series of braggadocios raps all with the intention of proving how nice he is.
As you might have recently heard Royce remaking “Love Lockdown” and “Live Your Life” here he takes on Game and Wayne’s “My Life” to perfection with the hilarious, but accurate “I’m Nice.” Between a perfect Weezy imitation on the hook (voice box and all) to some pointed criticism of the lack of skills seen in Hip Hop today, Royce has taken what got 50 signed and elevated it to a new high.
An upside to having Green Lantern mix your tape is that you are probably going to be getting some beats from the Evil Genius. Royce gets treated to a few, none more powerful than the monstrous, and aptly titled, “Gun Music.” Utilizing a familiar sample (Where’s my Dilated fam?) Royce and Green mash on everyone here! Where’s the M.O.P. featured remix?
Royce and Trick Trick meet up for some Detroit love over a symphonic Mr. Porter beat – Dre has helped dude so much. We see another D connection with Elzhi going in over the “Royal Flush” beat along with Royce and a long lost Canibus (well for us Seattle folk he’s been around, any Fort Lewis readers?) all of whom do their thing, but this one was pristine the way it was, could have been left alone.
As is probably apparent I could go on about most every track. Royce is a tremendous emcee, more verbose than many and he utilizes it well. His flow is soft and while I can’t say I’ve ever thought about a rappers vocal control, Royce isn’t singing here but he uses his voice to convey emotions – something unheard of in this genre.
If you were thinking that the DJ Premier and Statik Selektah helmed Bar Exam couldn’t be topped, you were probably right (I’m about to go back and bang that tape!) but Royce and Green deliver a worthy follow up and an album on par with the best releases of the year.
And all of it for free.
Or if you want to have just the tracks minus all the DJ bullshit, no hate to all my DJ's out there!