Hip-hop Duo PRhyme Brings Inaugural Tour to Grog Shop

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Rapper Royce da 5'9" credits a friend of his at Shady Records for providing him with the concept for PRhyme, a collaboration with veteran producer DJ Premiere (Gang Starr).

“We wanted to get this kid Adrian Younge, who was heating up at the time and Jay-Z had just used two beats on his album that were samples,” says Royce da 5'9". “[Producer] Timbaland had used his music for Jay-Z. I wanted to know who the kid was. I did my research and found out that he scored the Black Dynamite soundtrack. That’s one of my favorites, and I loved the music. I thought, ‘What if we got somebody who could sample his music?’”

Royce originally approached Slaughterhouse, the group he fronts. When they turned him down, he reached out to Premier.

“He was more receptive to doing it,” he says of Premier. “We started recording it and sometime during the process of recording, we decided to make it a group and call ourselves a name and separate the group from out body of legacies, for lack of a better term. That’s pretty much it. The original idea was to have him make music and have Premier sample from the music he made. Premier just ended up sampling his catalog. By the time we got the album done, Adrian didn’t know what samples we pulled. He was completely surprised when we played it for him.”

Issued last year, the self-released album, which features guests like Schoolboy Q, Mac Miller, Jay Electronica and Killer Mike, has a cool old school vibe as rapper Royce da Royce Da 5'9" puts a heavy emphasis on lyrics. Currently on a 26-date headline tour, with support from upstarts Your Old Droog and Nas' artist Boldy James, Premier and Royce will also be performing classics from throughout their careers. Royce says that he put an emphasis on lyrics to distinguish PRhyme's approach from that of other hip-hop outfits.

“What I wanted to do was just get really, really lyrical,” he says. “Not from a fancy, trendy punchline-y perspective. I wanted to get really technical. That’s one of the things that’s missing right now. [The Nas album] Illmatic was that to me. From a technical standpoint, what he was doing with the words and syllables was something I had never heard before. I was like, ‘We need something like that in hip-hop right now. We need something that can provide a balance.’”

When we spoke to Royce, he had just completed the tour’s first day. So how did it go?

“It went really good,” he says. “It felt good to get back out there. The dynamic with Premier is a little different than what I’m used to. It’s my first time getting out there by myself with no hype man. I got the whole stage to myself. That’s super weird. I’m used to being up with a group. I went out with [the hip-hop group] Slaughterhouse for so long, I’m used to being out there with them or with [rapper] Marshall [Mathers]. I’m up there now with the whole stage to myself. I gotta get used to that.”

PRhyme featuring Royce Da 5'9 & DJ Premier, Boldy James, Holy, Common Ave., 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 23, Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216-321-5588. Tickets: $20, grogshop.gs.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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