Published Nov 21, 2014Despite numerous guest and production credits, collaboration projects, EPs and a solo album, rapper and Juno-nominated producer royceBIRTH remains one of the most underrated hip-hop artists in Canada. His sophomore solo album should change that — if Caesar Is Home gets the proper push it deserves.
This is royceBIRTH in peak form. His lyrics are a fine mix of braggadocio and introspection and reveal his obvious love of music, but a lot of Caesar Is Home is dripping with discontent and rebellion. His smooth, soulful sample selections are still centre stage, but they're bolstered in many instances by heavy drums. Even when the tracks are mellower, you can still hear the special attention paid to the drums. And over it all is a general vibe of lo-fi experimentation — the samples distorted and reverb added — with unique sample choices that give the music a distinct sound, such as the bell on "John Carlos" that acts as the only high note on this otherwise muddy, minimalist beat heavy on metal samples.
It's the centrepiece of the album, but other highlights abound: more distortion and guitars on "Welcome Home," "Radio Raheem" and uptempo dance track "We Don't Care"; some smooth soul, complete with impressive singing from royceBIRTH, on "Agitation" and "Feel Like Doing Wrong." But really, it's all good. (Box Project Records)