Royce 5’9″ Is Releasing a New Solo Album & It’s His Best Work Ever. This Video Shows It.

Royce 5’9″ (as it is now officially stylized) is releasing his sixth solo album, Layers, on April 15, 2016, his first in nearly 5 years. Distributed through his own Bad Half Entertainment, the Mr. Porter and Royce executive-produced LP delves deeply into the many sides of the Detroit, Michigan veteran MC.

“This album is a reintroduction to Royce 5’9″ but also an introduction to Ryan Montgomery,” the MC tells Ambrosia For Heads. “This album is actually the first ‘layer’ of many that will be revealed this year. By the end of 2016, I want people to really get a chance to know me.”

Throughout his career, Royce has showcased specific portions of himself at different times. The breakthrough 1999 single “Boom,” produced by would-be PRhyme partner DJ Premier, introduced a battle-savvy cocky lyricist from Motown, who spit bars to leave marks. In his earliest Bad Meets Evil work with close friend Eminem, Royce channeled that wit, imagery, and creativity into horror and gore. By acclaimed Death Is Certain, the fictional themes shifted to a man apart, taking on the world and himself at the highest of stakes. Layers aims to touch upon all of those sides, along with many others that make up Ryan Montgomery, the artist and the man at once.

“Sound-wise, it’s different from my other sounds or album feels of my other groups,” says Royce, who has been focused on his group work since 2011’s Success Is Certain. “I don’t want to give too much away but lyricism and content is always an important factor in every album that I’m a part of.” He also added of Layers, “This album was the first album that I spent a lot of time putting it together as a complete thought. Most of my albums reflect an emotion based off of my feelings. Death Is Certain was dark because of everything I was going through; this album reflects my emotion, but also my thoughts.”

In the time away from his celebrated solo career, Royce has made a gold-certified album, dominated the charts, and fulfilled a longtime plan with Em’ as B.M.E. Slaughterhouse continues to be a purebred MC super-group, that through television, the Internet, and radio, upholds the tenants of wordplay, cadence, and flow in the mainstream. PRhyme has given Nickel Nine some of the strongest critical accolades of his career, in taking his rich relationship with Premier (and third band member Adrian Younge) to a deeper, holistic place. All of these advancements set the stage for Royce to make the album of his career, a defining work of intimate artistry.

“There are a lot of pros and cons to working by myself and working in a group capacity,” Royce reflects. “A con is I have to do a lot more writing by myself. When your writing a song with three other people you don’t have to do as much work. I’m inspired by other artists, so that’s a plus, but when I’m working alone it’s 100% what I want to do which could be cool too.” To a great extent, Layers puts focus squarely on Royce’s perspective and personal creative freedom, though his collaborative works over the years have been a critical part of his evolution. “I’ve learned a lot from being a part of B.M.E, Slaughterhouse and PRhyme and I’ve had the opportunity to use all of those experiences to better myself as an artist, so it’s very exciting to see how those experiences will affect my career,”  he says.

In exploring Layers, Ambrosia For Heads is proud to present the first in a series of videos showcasing Royce’s head-space through lyrics. The video features a verse from the song “Hard,” which is part of the album. Inside the song’s lyrics, the MC touches upon his struggle, his perseverance, and ability to weather the capsizing storms of the industry to a new promised land. The visuals build on the metaphor of Layers and exemplify the new level Royce has reached, creatively. Acapella, the founding member of Bad Meets Evil, Slaughterhouse, and PRhyme kicks bars that beckon quoting, analysis, and a healthy dose of rewinds:

Here are the “Hard” verse lyrics:

A lot of people ask me since I’m a lyricist / In this business / How come I haven’t gone broke yet? / I tell ’em it’s ’cause I’m the flyest backpacker, ever / I’m flyer than Mos Def / In the Trump Tower / Surrounded by four chefs / Fixing him some salmon croquettes / With Kendrick, Cole, and Kweli / In their dinner clothes. Try me / You and your crew will bleed / Y’all bums ain’t shot for the stars / Since New Years Eve / Nothin’ was given to me / I had to go up side heads just to get up side hills / Never over-the-hill though, so I don’t strike when the iron is hot / I strike whenever the fuck I feel / I eat what the fuck I kill / I got this way from not being allowed to eat dinner / If you knew how much I’ve lost, you’d have no problem with me winnin’ / How many times—how many times—how many times could I be reinvented? / Money is the deadlier of the five venoms / In my denim / Definitely got a wad in ’em / Garages with cars in ’em / Hangin’ out at bars to have menages with bartenders / God was an artist, and Jesus was a car-penter / They put me together like an easel / In the darkness of hell / And lost it / And left me some loose screws, but these are the nails to your coffin / These are the folk tales of a starving artists / Battling demons / Through his notepad / Like Adam and Eve /Eating kale in the garden / Flying private away from all charges / As my Layers keep evolving.

Layers releases April 15.

Related: Royce Da 5’9 Answers Fan Questions & Reflects on His Idol J Dilla (Video Interview)