Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Royce is back in action for the first time since 2018 with his new concept album 'The Allegory'. The 22 track album sits at just under an hour and ten minutes long and focuses on America's problems - such as discrimination of minorities and prejudice, how money is perceived and the over-reliance of it, gun violence, greed and the government and all their lies. To continue these key themes, he has six different skits that move the story along well despite a few that seem pointless (such as 'Generation Is Broken'), and the whole anti-vax stuff I'm not a fan of. Shout out to Eminem who appears on the skit 'Perspective - Skit' and gives a great monologue on racism in America & hip-hop. Royce actually produced all but two tracks on this album and did a fine job - it's not top tier production but it suits the atmosphere well and has its own unique twist on it. Lyrically as well, Royce is at the top of his game. He's a word smith, his complexity probably means a load of bars have flew over my head (I'll be the first too admit) but from what I caught, his punchlines are great and his ability to paint an image in your head is impressive. His flow too is fine but at times I'd just wish he'd switch it up mid verse to keep it that tad more interesting. Finally a quick mention to the features Royce has selected which most of the time are great but there is the odd occasion where they either add nothing or are rapping on a track that I already am not much a fan of and they haven't saved the track so therefore it has no lasting impact on me.
The first song is 'Mr. Grace (Intro)' and it's pretty much a spoken word introduction. It sets the tone well, focuses on all the key themes (I mentioned above) that will appear in the album - despite working well as an introduction I probably won't listen to it again - in the context of the album it's good though. Following that, we have the jazz inspired beat of 'Dope Man' where N.W.A.'s version is flipped to see it from the perspective of the dope man being a "hood celebrity". Royce is brilliant on this track - my only issue is the feature Emanny. His verse kind of just drags on and is a bit stale - other than that it's a fine song. While decent, 'I Don't Age' probably is the worst song at this point. The piano in the beat is nice and the instrumental does a great job while Royce talks on his past life, current life and sobriety on this honest track. Lyrically it gets me invested but the stale, repetitive flow kind of puts me off returning to this song. We reach the best song on the album with the sinister 'Pendulum'. The eerie strings and vocals repeatedly saying "As the Lord swings the pendulum" create such an unearthly atmosphere which helps the track out massively. Royce's verses are all solid lyrically as well as his flow and delivery, while the guest verse in Ashley Sorrel is great - especially her cadence. The song takes a focus on today's society and music industry as Royce continues to make interesting points.
From one high to a low, 'I Play Forever' is again lyrically strong but the bland beat and boring guest verse creates a pretty dull track. At least 'On The Block' picks the album back up as the beat generates some life, Royce keeps his verse interesting with his high energy and flow switches to stop it getting stale, and the feature in Oswin Benjamin does great. Westside Gunn features on 'Overcome', and his feature is nice enough. Royce's verse is lyrically dense as he disses Yelawolf and talks about the area he comes from. The soul sample is nice and it's a great example of rapping ability but as artistry it's not amazing, and the replay value really lacks on a song like this. The halfway point of the album is the song 'Thou Shall'. It's an alright song, Kid Vishis adds something to it. Nothing much more I can say about it. Conway the Machine partners Royce da 5'9" on 'FUBU' as he kills his verse with his great flow, delivery and some great punchlines, "What's in my pocket? A knot I can't fold". Royce also kills it because as you can guess he doesn't use the same stagnant flow all the way throughout. We've got some momentum going with the track 'Upside Down' which is good once again. Royce & BENNY THE BUTCHER rap about different things but mainly focusing on the new generation of rap and how fake they are - also a lot of focus on racism. Two solid verses with nice flows and lyrically dense partnered with a great boom bap beat and a good hook from Ashley Sorrell and you have another good song on this project. 'Tricked' probably has my favourite beat of the album with the drums & guitar giving us a catchy melody. The song talks about how we're tricked on different things from record label managers to gang violence. KXNG Crooked drops a dope verse as well and this is definitely a highlight of the album.
'Black Savage' is a posse cut featuring artists such as CyHi The Prince, White Gold, Sy Ari da Kid & T.I.. It's explosive beat is used to uplift black artists and people - a great example of rapping skill on this one but like a few other songs not the easiest listen. 'Rhinestone Doo Rag' acts as an interlude and speaks on common themes in the album and definitely has its place belonging here. 'Young World' is alright - but just that. G Perico & Vince Staples are fine on the song but it's yet another track I just don't see myself going back to. 'My People Free' for me is the worst song on the project. It's just boring due to its lifeless delivery, Ashley's poor feature and the basic beat that doesn't do anything to stand out. At least we end on a high note with 'Hero'. The beat instantly kicks in on this one to give the track life early on, and we get a more fun delivery from Royce and a personal end to the album as the song references his dad and growing up with his dad.
So, to conclude Royce's album is good. The second half is mostly solid and better than the inconsistent first half. I don't love every track, but they all have a place here and I appreciate them for what they are. The technical ability is near perfect this album and there are great songs but overall what stops this being a really great album is the lack of artistry. Nether the less it's still a good album - it may not have loads of replay value but it will have a lasting effect on me.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Dope Man, I Don't Age, Pendulum, On the Block, Overcomer, Thou Shall, FUBU, Upside Down, Tricked, Black Savage, Rhinestone Doo Rag, Young World, Hero
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: My People Free
OVERALL RATING: Solid 7.5/10
*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*