Royce Da 5'9" Independent's Day

Royce seems to have found his niche as an independent artist expressing himself completely on his own terms. The expectations of big sales and the associations and disassociations with other big name artists are all absent on Independent’s Day. Royce is at competition with himself on this one, which is how it should be. The meat of Independent’s Day is tough, dirty, and seasoned without preservatives or artificial flavours. Royce has been down and counted out, but now he’s gotten back up and is still doing his thing. That’s the theme woven throughout the album and displayed in his attitude, the content and the heavy beats supplied mostly by Carlos Broady. It’s an educational experience: the title track is dark yet bouncy and Royce packs it with lyrics that are fast paced yet personal and didactic. Your neck will bob while you learn how he owns all of the masters in his catalogue and he gets seven dollars for each record sold. Cee-Lo lends his signature raspy gospel-delic vocals on "Politics,” where Royce delivers a retrospective sermon on the ugliness of the music business. Royce is in a zone on this album; it’s obvious even when he gets raunchy on "Fuck My Brains Out,” which is actually a cool song because of the fast paced 808 over the airy James Bond-ish string arrangement, which Royce glides over nicely. And nice MCs can do wonderful things with all kinds of topics, and make you forget about all the rap gimmicks that can drive you crazy. (Fusion III)