Royce Da 5’9”, Rock City

Christopher R. Weingarten

By Christopher R. Weingarten

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Detroit smart-ass Royce Da 5'9" went to war armed with one of the most formidable arsenals available. His debut, Rock City, Version 2.0 (the alpha version was bootlegged relentlessly), had a beat-maker dream team (the Neptunes, the Alchemist, DJ Premier, Trackmasters), the endorsement of an industry wunderkind (fellow D-towner Eminem put Royce on the map with a cameo on The Slim Shady LP), a mountain of underground hype (the Premier-produced "Boom" was a street sensation) and a cocksure delivery that oozed Motor City oil without ever being derivative. Due to Columbia shelving the album for a year (or the fact that not everyone can be 50 Cent), Royce never really cracked the mainstream — which is unfortunate, since Royce is an engaging, no-nonsense spitter who sounds equally convincing spinning yarns about Motown's grittiest streets ("Rock City") or penning a passionate ode to his privatest of parts ("My Friend").