Royce 5’9 & J. Cole Are At Their Best In A Nostalgic Video About Escape

Last Friday (March 23), Royce 5’9 formally released his anticipated J. Cole collaboration, “Boblo Boat.” The MC intersection is the first single to Nickel’s May 4 album, The Book Of Ryan, releasing on the heels of PRhyme 2. Cole is the album’s lone guest, and the collabo’ is anything but typical.

“Boblo Boat” travels back to Ontario, Canada’s Boblo Island Amusement Park. Based on what some Royce affiliates (Hex Murda, Illa J) told Ambrosia For Heads, the park served as an accessible, affordable (if they were not trespassing) point of escape for kids in Detroit, Michigan, and surrounding areas. For Royce, the colorful, sometimes dodgy theme park is both a callback to childhood and a crossroads where innocence was lost. In the song, he raps about common adolescent things, like losing his virginity and sneaking underage sips of alcohol. However, for the PRhyme member, there were also consequences. He raps how unprotected sex caused instant paranoia, and those early sips are part of a story that now finds Ryan Montgomery proudly sober for years.

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Even though J. Cole grew up thousands of miles away, he can relate to the sentiment and the experience. It’s not the Canadian park specifically in mind when Cole raps about ham-handed attempts at teenage sex from a dented Honda Civic with aftermarket wheels. “But these keys don’t come with game on how to finesse her / Five semesters left until college, I’m under pressure / I’m not a real ni**a ’til I undress her, I gotta ‘press her / This was my main concern back when concerns were lesser / Nowadays, I often yearn to press the / Backspace button or hit return but life is not no word processor.” The Dreamville founder has broached these flashbacks on songs like “Wet Dreamz”

Like so much great art, both lyricists are essentially saying, If I knew then, what I know now…I would love to do it all over again.

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More than an emailed or cut-and-paste collaboration, Cole and Royce’s first meeting is a genuine one, artistically and otherwise. The two organically crossed paths (according to Nickel’s Rap Radar Podcast interview). Reportedly at Jermaine’s suggestion, recording followed. Cole, who has been active behind the camera, directs the music video which follows a group of contemporary teens. The kids are doing the same thing these two MCs know all too well—breaking into the park to steal some moments of adulthood in a place for kids. The youth is juxtaposed with two rappers at a theme park, spitting from the top of their game. Cedric The Entertainer makes a brief cameo, playing Boblo’s sleepy security. He dispatches an end to the trespassers’ party.

The Book Of Ryan is available for pre-order through eOne Entertainment. Released earlier this month, Royce and DJ Premier’s PRhyme 2 features Big K.R.I.T., Rapsody, Roc Marciano, Dave East, and 2 Chainz, among others.

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“Boblo Boat” is currently included on the official AFH playlist.