dis·ap·point (d s -point ) v. dis·ap·point·ed, dis·ap·point·ing, dis·ap·points
1. To fail to satisfy the hope, desire, or expectation of.
2. Royce's Rock City
Most of the hip-hop debut albums I look forward to are usual oft delayed, only to be released and disappoint. Cam'Ron's "Confessions of Fire," Canibus' "Can-I-Bus," Black Rob's "Life Story," Beanie Sigel's "The Truth." The list goes on and on. Unfortunately, you can add "Rock City," the debut from Detroit rhyme-slinger Royce da 5'9" to that list.
Most will know Royce from his work with Eminem; the two made a few hot songs under the name of Bad Meets Evil. It's no surprise that one of the best songs here, the title track, is produced by Em and features his vocals on the hook. The beat is so good it could easily be mistaken as something cooked up by Dre.
The next six songs, however, don't come close to matching the quality of the opening track. "Get'cha Paper" is decent, with a simple bass-thumping beat and average lyrics by Royce. In fact, the beat is so average I would be amazed if one person, upon one listen, would guess that it was produced by the Neptunes, who have really moved their sound forward after about a year of cookie-cutter production.
"We Live (Danger)" tries to pull the G-card again, sounding at least somewhat like Dre, but obviously not close enough. Sinking the album lower is the ridiculous production of the next four songs. "You Can't Touch Me," the Tone and Poke disaster of a radio-aimed track, sounds like a bad Neptunes knockoff. It was bad enough Royce was thrown on a Willa Ford single; there is no need for him to spit club joints. "Let's Go" is a triple-rhyme car wreck and "D-Elite Part 2" is basically there to showcase Royce's weak crew. D-Elite ain't no D-12; that should say enough.
Thankfully, DJ Premier comes to rescue Royce somewhat with "Boom." Even though this track is now about 18 months old, it's still bangin' as it ever was. Primo also laces the bonus track "My Friend," which uses the unoriginal idea of rhyming metaphorically about a gun. While it was better when Tupac and Prodigy did it, the beat is hot and Royce has the skills to make this a hot track.
One of the better tracks that close the album out strong is the introspective "Life," while Reef turns up to produce the solid and somewhat somber "What Would You Do."
To be fair, this album hasn't yet, nor ever will be released in the United States, and for good reason. Columbia recognizes the material isn't the quality it should be, and is saving Royce an early stumbling block. I guess no album is sometimes better than a shitty one. Which is not to say this album is terrible; there are some good tracks here that will be salvaged for his new album, tentatively titled "Life." Expect "Rock City," "Life," "Boom," possibly the remix, and a few others to make it to the next album. For this album though, neither two beats a piece from both the Neptunes and Primo, nor Eminem's guidance can save "Rock City."