Ever since Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″ made nice and Slaughterhouse was signed to Shady Records, Nickel Nine has found himself back in the spotlight. Though the title betrays that Royce has discovered a light at the end of the tunnel, he hasn’t forgotten his past. As a result, Success is Certain is an excellent blend of lively braggadocio and a reflection of the last decade of Royce’s life.
Stating the Truth
On multiple songs, Royce gets on anonymous wack rappers who he feels are watering down the game. However, rather than just throw generic complaints onto a beat, Royce gets specific, lamenting “e-beefing” and the like. What’s more, he does more than just bemoan the state of hip-hop; he actually does something to improve it with his hard-hitting rhymes.
He’s On Everything
Technically speaking, that is. Royce proves that, 13 years deep, he can still rhyme with the best of them. His stellar flow and delivery are present on every song, especially “Second Place,” his lively victory lap. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he is backed by exceptional production. DJ Premier laces “Second Place” with dope production, while Mr. Porter and StreetRunner provide excellent musical backdrops that fit Royce’s respective lyrics to a T. Kudos to Denaun for providing some of the best production of the year on “Security.” A few missteps notwithstanding, the production is generally very strong.
Success is Certain is in part a reflecting pool for Royce. Breaking down the hows, whys, and whats of his past feuds with the Shady camp, Nickel Nine takes a mature approach when talking of the past. “I’ll admit when I was wrong,” he says, while cementing his move past petty issues. He also provides the best recorded tribute to Proof yet with “Security,” on which he confesses, “The truth is, I was at Proof’s funeral, crying like a baby in the back row.” His self-sung hook only adds to the song’s depth and brilliance.
The Singing Bug
Unfortunately, “Security” is one of the only songs where Royce’s singing enhances the track. Providing sung hooks on multiple songs, Royce seems to have caught the singing bug after reuniting with Eminem. Fortunately, Royce is a much better crooner than Shady, and even some of his weak vocal displays do little to bog down the album.
This is Royce Da 5’9″‘s version of Recovery, only much better. The production and lyrics are equally is tight, and Royce is on some God’s Son-esque grown man business. With this album, Royce proves that success really is certiain.