Royce 5’9 – ‘The Book Of Ryan’ (Album Review)
Anyone who thinks that hip-hop is only about bragging, guns, and more bragging should check The Book Of Ryan out. Throughout this album, Royce 5’9 invites his listeners to meet his inner demons and find out exactly where they came from. Domestic violence, an abusive and addicted father, alcoholism, and fears for Royce 5’9’s descendants become repeated themes returned to throughout The Book Of Ryan.
By the end of it, any formerly ignorant friends of yours will get it. This is long-playing poetry of the highest calibre – and rhyme fiends will find plenty to chew on during the likes of Caterpillar and God Speed. The former happens to feature none other than long-time Royce 5’9 compatriot Eminem, who spits lyrically labyrinthine venom from the moment he enters to the end of the track, and the latter is just straight up awesome.
Then you have the ultra-quick Legendary, arriving much later and absolutely killing it. Outside sees Royce 5’9 listing his most personal fears; Power describes in vivid detail a family fight at Thanksgiving; and Strong Friend references rock icons Kurt Cobain and Chester Bennington while highlighting male mental health issues and suicide as topics too often swept under the carpet.
By the time First Of The Month closes The Book Of Ryan off with a laid-back tune about getting paid, spending cash, then running dry weeks later and going “from buying back to selling”, long-time Royce 5’9 fans are going to feel closer to their favourite rapper than ever before. Just before it drops, Stay Woke revisits addiction and childhood trauma – allowing First Of The Month to have infinitely more impact than it would have had had it come earlier in the album. Mid-album breathers such as Boblo Boat do pop up now and then, but for the most part The Book Of Ryan will stick in the mind as a masterfully narrated journey through Royce 5’9’s dark side.
Respect is absolutely due for this one.
LTK RATING: 94% (Essential Listening!)
The Book Of Ryan drops May 4; pre-order it on iTunes.