When I first heard Royce Da 5’9″ spit with Eminem on “Bad Meets Evil” off The Slim Shady LP, I knew I had a new favorite emcee on my hands. But then the two Detroit rappers had a slight falling out and at that time, which was 2000, I had little knowledge of where Royce was headed next. Of course, I heard tracks from Rock City (Version 2.0), such as the unbelievable “Boom” produced by DJ Premier. After that, he dropped the critically-acclaimed Death Is Certain and a string of mixtapes before and following time in prison. And while 2008’s The Bar Exam 2 mixtape certainly showed his hunger was still intact, it was not until the supergroup Slaughterhouse formed that I truly understood just why Nickel-Nine caught my attention.
And now, as a teaser for the Aug. 11 release of Slaughterhouse’s debut, we have been treated to Royce’s brief but efficient The Revival EP. It might only be four tracks long. It might feature an opening cut with Royce scatting gunshot sounds for nearly a minute – the catchy “Gun Harmonizing”. And the EP might be over way too soon. But I will be damned if it doesn’t have me and others craving his record with Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, and Joe Budden as Slaughterhouse. That craving was only further spurred by the track “Warriors”, a gutter-as-hell joint featuring the four emcees spitting like men possessed.
But there is a lot more to this EP than furthering the hype for Royce’s group’s debut. The other two joints on here – “Count For Nothing” and “Street Hop 2010” – might actually make you wish Nickel-Nine’s solo effort was dropping first. “Count For Nothing” is Royce at his hungriest as he rhymes over fantastic production full of guitars and horns. And he takes us back to his roots with Slim Shady with celebrities namedropping and clever punchlines. Even though “Street Hop 2010” isn’t on the same level, per se, it will still have you pressing the rewind button to hear some of Royce’s nastiest lyrics.
I know the rating for this review might seem a bit odd after all the praise I have dished out for The Revival. But, as has been mention, it’s only four tracks long in an age when most EPs are at least five or six tracks with many reaching beyond that. Yes, the old adage of short-and-sweet can apply here, but a few more joints could have certainly helped Royce’s cause. But hell, if this is all he wanted us to have, then we’ll just have to deal with four of the finest street tracks of ’09.