PRhyme bring together an MC whose biggest mainstream success came through associations with Eminem and a producer whose ’90s omnipresence has shifted to current-day special-guest legacy status. There’s no point in blaming Royce da 5’9″ and DJ Premier for harboring “real hip-hop” revivalist, ’90s-veteran defiance — it’s not the first time they’ve put their two cents in where that’s concerned. But 10 years after both parties first teamed up on Death Is Certain lead single “Hip Hop,” PRhyme make them the co-headliners of a compact but effective collaboration without compromise.
The opportunity to work alongside the perpetually competitive Royce and the never-fell-off icon Primo boosts the star power of PRhyme: the wordplay-heavy stoner agility of Mac Miller and Ab-Soul add levity to “Dat Sound Good,” Common fuses elder reminiscence and a young man’s intensity on “Wishin’,” and shit-talk expo “Underground Kings” ramps up the ferocity from a coolly seething Royce to a snarling, fire-spitting Schoolboy Q to a supercharged, nuclear-option Killer Mike. But it’s the headliners who hold it together. Royce’s older-and-wiser leanings still allow for ironclad hunger, a salt-in-the-wound battler determined to keep his underdog fires stoked (from “Courtesy”: “Nowadays chances are that if you see me throw the match/ It ain’t to lose the fight, it’s to walk away from a burning bridge”). And by focusing on beats entirely sourced from the murky cinema funk of Adrian Younge, Premier’s production takes on a vintage, sun-bleached cast that perfectly accentuates his fluidly loping drum breaks and the grimy precision of his scratches.