Tag: Benny The Butcher

Live Footage: Royce da 5’9″ Performs “Thou Shall” and “Overcomer” on Vevo’s Ctrl

Born Ryan Daniel Montgomery, Royce da 5’9″ is a Detroit, MI-born and-based emcee, best known for his longtime association with Eminem, with whom he’s one half of duo, Bad Meets Evil, a critically applauded solo career, primarily collaborating with Carlos “6 July” Broady and DJ Premier, as well as ghostwriting for the likes of Diddy and Dr. Dre. He’s also a member of Slaughterhouse, an All-Star hip-hop act that also features Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, and one half of PRhyme with the legendary (and aforementioned) DJ Premier.

As the story goes, Royce da 5’9″ signed his first deal with Tommy Boy Records, who offered him $1 million while Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment offered him $250,000 and unlimited beats, a decision that he described as one of his biggest regrets in a 2016 Complex interview. After Tommy Boy Records closed, the Detroit-based emcee signed a deal with Columbia and Game Recordings, with whom he began recording an album then titled Rock City, a title which referred to Detroit being the former (and best known) home of Motown Records. When the album wound up being heavily bootlegged, the Detroit-based emcee left that label for Koch to re-record the album, eventually releasing it 2002 as Rock City (Version 2.0). And although the album didn’t sell well, the DJ Premier-produced single “Boom” helped Royce achieve some underground recognition and lead to the two working more closely with PRhyme.

Their 2014 debut album together featured both artists going out of their comfort zones, and expanding upon their familiar sounds; in fact, Premier enlisted the compositional skills of Adrian Younge, whose work he sampled throughout the album’s production while Royce da 5’9″ traded bars with the likes of MF Doom and Little Brother‘s Phonte on the initial release, and with The Roots‘ Black Thought, Joey Bada$$ and Logic on the deluxe edition released the following year. 2014 also saw Royce da 5’9″ team up with Eminem on the posse cut “Detroit vs. Everybody.” 

Since then, the Detroit-based emcee released 2016’s solo album Layers, 2018’s Book of Ryan, which featured another ongoing collaboration with Eminem “Caterpillar,” that year’s second PRhyme album Phyme 2 and a guest spot of Eminem’s surprise release Kamikaze. 2020 continues a recent period of incredible prolificacy with the release of his eighth album, the 22 track The Allegory, which features guest spots from Westside Gunn, YBN Cordae, Benny the Butcher, and a boatload of others. 

Vevo’s Ctrl series highlights the work of hard-hitting, cutting-edge artists making an impact in today’s music scene with a focus on both emerging and established artists. The artists Vevo’s Ctrl series features are artists that the video platform believes demand attention, and the series is a way of shining a deserving spotlight on those artists. Recently, Vevo’s Ctrl invited the acclaimed Detroit-based emcee to their Brooklyn studios to perform two tracks off the album — “Overcomer” and “Thou Shall.” “Thou Shall” is centered around an eerie, RZA-like production: stuttering beats, a sinuous bass line and a looping string sample and eerie atmospherics while Royce da 5’9″ of bold and swaggering pronouncement of being doper than anyone else out there, full of pop cultural references with Kid Vishis slamming the door on anyone who may challenge them. “Overcomer” is centered around a looped and seemingly ancient soul sample and thumping beats while Royce da 5’9″ rhymes about blessings, the wisdom he’s earned, sociopolitical observations and more.

The performances that Vevo’s Ctrl captured are swaggering, passionate within an intimate yet minimalist setting.  

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Lyric Video: Clipping.’s Menacing “La Mala Ordina”

Over the past few years of this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based industrial hip hop/experimental hip hop trio Clipping. The act, which is comprised of production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and emcee Daveed Diggs never expected to achieve anything near critical or commercial success: their earliest releases were centered around Snipes’ and Hutson’s sparse and abrasive productions featuring industrial clang, clink and clatter and samples of field recordings paired with Diggs’ rapid-fire, narrative-drigven flow, full of surrealistic, brutally violent imagery and swaggering braggadocio. 

Their full-length debut, 2013’s Midcity caught the attention of Sub Pop Records, who over the past decade have developed a reputation for releasing the work of a diverse array of artists including Debo Band, Shabazz Palaces, GOAT, Daughn Gibson. Sub Pop signed the Los Angeles-based trio and released 2014’s clipping. an effort that received attention across the blogosphere, including here. 

When Diggs went on to star in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton,winning a Tony Award for his dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette, the act was on an informal hiatus. But during that time, the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays reconvened to write and record 2016’s critically applauded effort Splendor & Misery, a Sci-Fi dystopian concept album that is futuristic and yet describes our increasingly frightening and bizarre present.

Clipping’s fourth album (and third through Sub Pop), There Existed an Addiction to Blood is slated for an October 18, 2019 release, and the album, which features guest spots from Ed Balloon, La Chat, Counterfeit Madison and Pedestrian Deposit finds the acclaimed act interpreting another rap splinter sect through their own singular lens — in this case, horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a brief   few moments in the mid 1990s. Some of its pioneers included Brotha Lynch Hung, Gravediggaz, which featured The RZA — and it included seminal releases from Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and pretty much most of Memphis cassette tape rap. Interestingly, There Existed an Addiction to Blood is partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — the title is derived from the film and the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays sampled part of the score on the album.

Last month, I wrote about the menacing and cinematic “Nothing Is Safe.” Centered around plinking, anxiety-inducing keys and arpeggiated synths, the eerie, horror movie-like production allows enough space for Diggs’ complex, multi-syllabic and dense flow to comfortably unfurl and narrate a tense, paranoiac dread-filled tale about a trap house under siege by a rival gang. Diggs’ narrative is so descriptive and hyper realistic that you can fear the horror of the narrator as he sees his homey get gunned down, feel the bullets whiz past you and hear the chandelier smash into the floor. In this universe, death is a constant, inescapable and malevolent force. And while lovingly employing the tropes of gangsta rap and horror films, complete with doomed and fatalistic characters and scenarios, the track finds the trio expanding upon their sound in a way that nods at Geto Boys’ hallucinogenic “My Mind Playing Tricks On Me.” “La Mala Ordina,” There Existed an Addiction to Blood’s latest single features Diggs, The Rita, Benny The Butcher and Elcamino spitting rhymes full of mayhem, copious gore, street gangsta shit and hustling over a sparse and menacing production featuring twinkling and arpeggiated keys, buzzing bass synths and tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats. Sonically and lyrically, the track is part Mobb Deep (at the moment, I’m reminded of “Get It Twisted”) part DMX (uh, everything he’s ever really done). part horror film and it may arguably be the most menacing, mayhem and viciousness-filled hip hop song I’ve come across all year.