Royce 5’9 Sets The Bar 4 2017 With The Best Mixtape Of The Year (Audio)

With 2016’s Layers, Royce 5’9 landed the highest-performing solo LP of his career, a laudable accomplishment for an MC whose presence in the game extends back decades. Since its release, Detroit, Michigan’s Nickel Nine never retreated from the mic, dropping punishing, razor-sharp features on projects from Westside Gunn & Conway, Consequence, Marv Won, and others. But he’s also been on a tear of his very own, smacking other rappers’ records upside the head with his own versions of DJ Khaled’s “I Got the Keys,” Big Sean’s “Moves,” and Migos’ “Bad & Boujee.”

Royce 5’9’s Ill Rhymes Put Other MCs In The Sunken Place (Audio)

Today (June 20), all of his lyrical exercises over the last 15 months or so have culminated in his surprise mixtape, Bar Exam 4. Seven years since releasing the third installment of the tape series he started a decade ago, Royce returns to teach a lesson in wizardry of words, with no regard whatsoever for your Top Ten or list of G.O.A.T.s. Opening with a vocal sample taken from a JAY-Z interview in which he’s discussing his 2010 book, Decoded, BE4 features nearly 90 minutes of his signature complex rhyme schemes, genius double-entendres, and also beats that will sound familiar to Heads. Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle” and Future’s “Mask Off” are just two of the popular Rap records he chooses to decimate (on the latter, he raps “I’ll put your lights out like Edison / Ain’t nobody out there ready for him / My blood type B-positive / You’re type O like your credit’s wrong / I’m immune to all medicine / Blue Ferrari head is gone / Went from palladiums to coliseum to stadiums / You perform in the Reddit forum”).

In speaking with Ambrosia For Heads, Royce 5’9 explains that his goal for this project was to “show versatility and give people a variety” through a selection of beats some fans may not have expected to hear him spit over. Even more importantly, he has a message to his peers: “Put your best foot forward with whatever you do. And to those who I feel are great, let’s challenge each other to be even better lyricists.” He also has words for Kendrick Lamar and Joe Budden, both of whom have recently named Royce as one of the greatest lyrical minds of all time. “All I’m here to do, is my very best. I appreciate those words from my brother Joe, and I think Kendrick is a legend.” When asked how he is able to continuously raise the bar, not just for others but also himself, Royce says it’s very simple. “Practice…I’m in the studio even when I don’t have to be…”

“The Symphony 2016” ft Kane, G Rap, Royce, Monch, Black Thought, Freeway & More (Video)

Guests on Bar Exam 4 include Nick Grant, Elzhi, Westside Gunn, Conway and Slaughterhouse. In addition to these new heat rocks, Royce is busy in the studio with DJ Premier, where the two are cooking up PRhyme 2.