Royal Flush Iced Down New York City’s Late ’90s Run Alongside N.O.R.E. (Video)
1997 was one of Rap’s most transitional years. In the settling dust of the East Coast vs. West Coast feud, both shorelines produced some standout Hip-Hop albums. Not all of the material necessarily made the charts, but it was in this resettling that movements such as Rawkus, No Limit, Cash Money, Ruff Ryders, Stones Throw, Slip-N-Slide, and Hoo Bangin’ took shape.
In June of 1997, Capone-N-Noreaga released The War Report, a spotlight-grabbing independent release that said, even in armistice, some products of the feud were still dressed in fatigues. Above propaganda, Capone and the MC eventually known as N.O.R.E. simply tried to bring attention back to beats and rhymes, which they did, care of a Top 25 debut. That same calendar, artists like Boot Camp Clik, O.C., Common, and Diamond D aimed to accomplish the same upward trajectory, as the industry and market sorted itself out.
Fresh off of C-N-N’s success, another Queens, New York MC was fast-tracked through the indie machine. Royal Flush, a protege of Mic Geronimo, was afforded a debut release through Blunt/TVT. As The Firm partnered with Dr. Dre and Aftermath, Cormega inked a deal with Def Jam, and Screwball recorded their eventual debut, Royal Flush rose through the ranks at Blunt.
Ghetto Millionaire would be a fine debut, by musical standards. A street-savvy lyricist, Ramel Govantes (a/k/a Royal Flush) captured the ambitions, the ills, and the flares of the neighborhood, as well as the dusty sound du jour. That album would boast extensive production by Buckwild, DJ Hi-Tek, Da Beatminerz, Sha Money XL, and L.E.S. However, it was EZ-Elpee (Capone-N-Noreaga, Junior M.A.F.I.A.) that took on the lion’s share of the beats. A digger with a knack for making Tunnel-bangers, “Iced Down Medallions” would be just that. As Raekwon had flaunted Cuban Linx two years prior, Royal Flush brought out the truck jewels, and crusty symbols on his breakthrough singles. N.O.R.E., with his own rhyme partner incarcerated, stepped in with his boisterous style to propel the song upward on the Rap charts. Due in part to the label and the emerging attention of the New Orleans, Atlanta, Miami, and Houston movements, Royal Flush’s luck would not be dealt in the next hand, but he struck a jackpot to lovers of simplistic street subject matter, stylish lyrical displays, and dope, chopped down beats.
For the video, it was the newly-introduced Ford Expedition, Kordell Stewart jerseys, and bygone NYC street heists that made the low-budget look extra colorful. One year before N.O.’s self-titled debut, perhaps this look without Capone made it all seem possible to the Lefrak City MC.
What’s even more cool… these guys are still working together extensively 18 years later. Flush was on July’s Lessons LP by C-N-N.