Royce Da 5'9"

Royce Da 5'9"

With connections to DJ Premier’s classic boom-bap, Eminem’s Motown mania, and Slaughterhouse’s anti-trendy Internet rap, Royce da 5’9” has thrived in a lot of different spots on the hip-hop map during his career. Through it all he boasted a smoothly dexterous, dynamic flow, apt to murder any beat he encountered. But stardom continued to be elusive.

Ryan Mongomery, a.k.a. Royce da 5’9”, came up in the Detroit hip-hop scene of the late 1990s. He briefly formed a duo with Eminem called Bad Meets Evil -- before Eminem skyrocketed to fame with The Slim Shady LP, but the friendship between the two Detroiters would continue. In 1998 Royce signed a deal with Tommy Boy Records, but the label folded before he could release his debut album. After his DJ Premier-produced single “Boom” slowly gained an underground following, Royce finally released his debut full-length, Rock City (Version 2.0), on Koch Records in 2002. The album was an updated version of the heavily bootlegged one he had been working on for Tommy Boy. It featured production by Premier and the Neptunes, and appearances from Eminem and Clipse, but sold poorly.

Over the next few years Royce release a couple more classicist-leaning, lyrically acrobatic albums -- Death is Certain in 2004, Independent’s Day in 2005 -- that not a lot of people heard, but he was more known for feuding with Eminem’s posse D12, specifically one of its members, Proof. DJ Premier seemed to bring out the best in Royce; their 2007 mixtape, The Bar Exam, though admittedly vintage, is an exciting listen from start to finish. After serving time in prison for a DUI charge, Royce released his fourth studio album, Street Hop, in 2009. That same year saw the debut of Slaughterhouse -- an underground hip-hop group featuring Royce and other critically acclaimed, commercially neglected rappers Joel Ortiz, Joe Budden, and Crooked I. ~Wilson McBee

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