So we have a Deluxe Edition of what was already a strong, albeit short album from my favourite DJ and one of the dopest emcees in the game. What make this a Deluxe Edition? Well four extra tracks featuring some of the best Emcees in the game; Phonte, MF Doom, Logic, Joey BaDa$$ and (God Damn) Black Thought. I think that certainly warrants the Deluxe Edition sticker but is it worth the extra buck or two?
Track one is called “PRhyme” and clocks in at just under four minutes. Its a slow track for Premier and a break from his usual up tempo tracks; it’s a bit similar, to Nas’s “Second Childhood” The beat features a crisp set of drums and a nice cymbal. There is a good bass line and a nice organ riff that comes in from time to time along with what sounds like a harpsichord and pan pipes. Royce is a very skilled word smith and he shows this by dropping metaphors and allegories throughout the track. One of my favourite lines from Royce on this track is “I lost a whole bunch of money chasing b***hes but I never lost a b**ch chasing money”. Royce varies his speed throughout the track, at times going slow and avoiding his quick rapid-fire style.
“Dat Sound Good” is the second track on the album and the first to feature a couple of guest emcees; Ab Soul and Mac Miller. The beat is more of the traditional Premier style with an up tempo rhythm and some dope samples. A nice organ sample and a guitar riff make up the track and of course Premier slices them up nicely (good luck tracing those samples down). Royce drops the first verse with aplomb with Ab Soul taking over for the second and Mac Miller doing the final verse. Of course Premier provides some lovely scratches for the chorus. A very enjoyable track with a nice beat and decent verse from all three emcees.
Track three is kind of short but damn its good. It’s called “U Looz” and clocks in at just under 2 minutes (although they have a video for it; click image above) so maybe it will get an extended release as a 12″. It features an upbeat tempo with a heavy electric guitar sample, a tight snare and some dope scratching. Royce comes hard with his lyrics and even addresses the fact that some people have been saying he is there to replace GURU. Royce has some more great lines for example “I called my bullets The Expendables, because its hard to believe I can fit all of them boys in one clip”. A very good track with only one complaint about it, I wish it were longer.
Track four is called “You should know” and features the Detroit soul singer and songwriter Dwele. It’s a more mellow track switching between a nice guitar sample and some lovely horns. Royce again shows why he is considered a great Braggadocio emcee with lines like “Thats when I tell ’em like Kobe to Shaq You Lazy” and “I’m more Primo than my own DJ”. Dwele drops a nice lil’ hook for the chorus which actually works for the song. Of course DJ Premier scratches up some nice samples in between verse and at the beginning and end of the track. Premier produces with instrumentation from Adrian Younge.
Track five is called “Courtesy” and it is a mid tempo joint with a nice 808 drum break and an organ sample. These create a sparse stripped down joint for Royce to spit over. He truly lets his complex rhymes flow on this joint with numerous metaphors that take some rewinding before you get his meaning. This is the sort of rhyming you will never hear on a commercial joint quite simply because the record labels do not know how to market it. They think the majority of consumers won’t understand the intricacies of it.
Track six is an interesting joint called “Wishin'” and it features Common. The beat is slightly slower but features a fantastic guitar solo sample or at least it does for the introduction. Once the intro is out of the way the track speeds up and alters the way it uses the guitar solo sample from the intro. It repeats this for the second verse which is from Common; slow intro then full speed ahead for the the rest of the verse., Its an interesting approach that shows Premier is still up for experimenting with his music and more importantly it works. I enjoyed this track a lot, although it could have benefited from more than one verse from Common; especially as his rhymes were only on the slower part of the beat.
Track seven is called “To me, To you” and features Jay Electronica. Premier supplies a slower than usual beat featuring a dope guitar loop and some xylophones (I think). Royce drops the first two verses and sounds hungry. Jay Electronica drops the third verse and he sounds good although a reference to Pharaohe at the start of the verse seems a little puzzling. It’s a decent enough track although nothing really ground breaking.
“Underground Kings” is the albums eighth track and features Schoolboy Q and Killer Mike. Premier drops a nice tight upbeat track with lovely snares, guitar sample and really nice scratches. This doesn’t sound like a regular Premier beat (not that I have a problem with Premier beats) its something different in a very good way. Royce drops the first verse with Schoolboy Q doing the second and both of them represent nicely. However, as been the case for a couple of years now, Killer Mike owns the track like so many others he guested on. Mike sounds hungry over this up-tempo military sounding beat, spitting real fire. Great track, one of my favorite on the album.
The last track on this album is called “Microphone Preem” and features Slaughterhouse which in this case is King Crooked, Royce, Joell Ortizz and Joe Budden. The beat is raw and faster than most of the album with loud crisp drums and a nice organ loop. All four emcees are spitting fire but off their performance Royce is still the strongest lyricist in the group.
Now we move onto the Deluxe Edition tracks. The first of which is ‘Golden Era’ featuring Joey BaDa$$ and clocks in at just over four minutes. Royce takes the first and second verse on this mid tempo joint with a nice guitar loop and some piano vibes in the background. Royce waxes poetical about the golden era of Hip-Hop, name checking Nas and others whilst the beat speeds up slightly when the chorus comes in also adding some organs. Joey comes in for the last verse and reminds us why he is one of the brightest out of NY with a tight flow and nice metaphors. Premier drops some nice scratches during the intro, chorus and the outro. A dope track that really adds to the album.
The next joint is called ‘Wishin II’ and as Premier tells it this is a remix or perhaps sequel to the Common joint earlier in the album. However, this time we have the mighty Black Thought dropping knowledge alongside Royce. The beat starts off as a drum heavy slow marching joint but after the first verse Premier changes it up to a faster up tempo for Back Thought’s second verse. The track returned to the slower beat for Royce’s first verse then speeds up again for his last. This track is great, Premier shows real variety with his production on it changing the beat up throughout whilst Black Thought and Royce spit fire. I liked the original Wishin with Common but this kills it.
The penultimate track, ‘Highs and Lows’ brings in MF Doom and Phonte for an amazing collaboration between three of my favourite emcees on a Premier beat. There are five verses on this joint with Royce dropping two, Doom dropping two and Phonte dropping one along with some ad libs throughout. The beat has a slightly off beat drum pattern that is not typical of Premier’s style but coupled with an electric guitar and piano sample it works very well. Royce and Doom trade verses well with Royce taking the chorus. Phonte comes in for the final verse and adds a different flavour to the joint that fits in nicely alongside Royce and Doom. All three emcees work well over this beat but Doom and Phonte sound very comfortable over Premier’s snares.
The final track is another banger with the talented Logic joining Royce over a sick up tempo Premier beat with too many instruments on it list here or even name correctly. The beat is sick and faster than most of the album with Royce bringing his A Game possibly because he knows Logic will and he does. Not being too familiar with Logic, this track acts as a great introduction, and since first hearing it I have bought his most recent album; that’s surprisingly on Def Jam.
The original album was fairly strong but never quite reached the levels I expected it to however, the addition of these incredibly strong tracks on the Deluxe Edition takes it into another area. The Deluxe Edition makes this the album it should have been from the begin with an incredibly strong album from two of the most consistent artists in Hip-Hop with some great guest appearances from talented emcees. Right now I’d give this five out of five.
Scott Ronan – Sunday’s 10 – 12am ‘Hiphop & Breakz’ on Crackers Radio