“A lot of people ask me since I’m a lyricist in this business/ How come I haven’t gone broke yet?” – this is the opening line off a freestyle “Hard” Royce da 5’9” dropped to promote his upcoming album “Layers”. He provoked an interesting subject in hip-hop.
Royce da 5’9” is known for being pure lyricist to the core. In every project he ever did, he was writing some hardcore, raw and full rhymes. Since the beginning, he established himself as a pure lyricist. Royce never aimed or set out to make a million dollar record-deal and blow-up over night to live in sweet mansion with fine women and etc.
His first major, as he says it himself, was Bad meets evil project. As I heard about a year ago, it wasn’t just Eminem that Dre took interest in. Eminem and Royce went together in Los Angeles, all tough their paths separated for a long time. And Royce remained as a ghostwriter for Dre.
Throughout the years, Royce honed his skills on and on. I always liked his music, but wasn’t really into it until “The success is certain” came out. Songs like “Writer’s block”, “Merry go round” and “hip-hop” really stuck in my head. I remember, I was thinking, this is what rapping and lyricism in hip-hop is in its core. Especially the song “Merry go round” is such a beautiful example of rap music. If somebody told me, they didn’t know what rap music is, I would instantly turn on that song. Raw, slick, meaningful, melodic and eccentric flow – these qualities make rapper stand out from a crowd.
Royce also details working with Diddy. Ghostwriting is a common thing in today’s hip-hop culture. It wasn’t so uncommon in earlier days, it’s just information is more available now. Everybody knows Dre doesn’t write songs, but he orchestrates the whole process of song writing and making. But back in the day, Royce’s manager Kino went on some interview and mumbled about how Eminem was teaching Dre how to write rhymes – and that got Royce fired from company. When what Em did in reality was that he explained to Dre how he wrote his rhymes in multi syllabic ways… any ways.
Lyricism was never a key to success in hip-hop, but it was and still is the key to remain in culture and gain certain amount of respect. No lyricist sells million records, no lyricist shuts down arenas (with few exceptions, but you know what I mean). But ghostwriting is a common thing now. For some it was a shock that Drake wasn’t writing his lines. Not to me. When you’ve been hip-hop head for years, it’s really easy to tell a fake artist from a real artist. All tough Royce gave props to Drake for creating songs, I wouldn’t agree with him. It’s a one thing to be a businessman and market your product, and it’s totally different to create something unique that no one can do. Drake’s music can be copied to another artist and I don’t think anyone would find it odd. Those are some generic songs. Now you can’t give Nas’s song to other artis, like lil’ wayne or Drake – you would notice difference right away. Same goes to Rakim, Royce himself, Yasiin bey, Eminem and other popular or not so popular artists. Lyricism is a skill, but you have to use it to your advantage by creating such an unique style, that is bound to you and no one else.
That’s the special effect of a lyricist, that’s what makes lyricist stand proud and above everyone and alongside his peers with his head high – knowing that he’s the only one writing like that, talking like that, sending messages like that.