Published Jul 10, 2015Taking its name from the weekly club night/workshop at the storied "Pal's Lounge" in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward, which has recently experienced a renaissance as one of the city's latest hot spots, Royal is vocalist and "Pal's Lounge" co-owner Devon Lee and Dead Prez DJ Mikeflo. Like the duo's 2014 mixtape, #Royal Remixes, this six-track, self-titled EP is a genre-blurring, conscious party of rock, funk, soul and hip-hop. The aggressive banger "Jump" echoes Funkadelic with its command, " If you free your mind, your ass will follow, so move your body now!"
Royal pay reverence to the innovations of the P-Funk Mob and Prince, not to mention fellow ATLiens OutKast, yet these cats are anything but funk-faking mimeographs. Given Mikeflo's tenure in Dead Prez, it should come as no surprise that revolution is a recurring theme here — but there's a twist. The gunshot effects that punctuate the thumping, futuristic swagger (and both having dabbled in modeling, the two have swagger and style to burn) of the set's standout "Today" suggest that self actualization and personal liberation are as revolutionary as any political act, while the psychedelic and existential "Grey" suggests the late Arthur Lee, had he recorded with the Dungeon Family.
The closer, "Mr. President," is the album's only slip, as shredding guitars overshadow its boom-bap. The song's litany of societal ills, from mass incarceration to war to economic exploitation, offers more bark than bite. A full-length will give Royal a greater platform, and after this EP, that's something well worth waiting for. (Ropeadope)