I’m just going to start this off by saying…Nipsey Hussle officially has competition for album of the year in my opinion and I’m upset Slaughterhouse that collective that consists of Royce Da 5’9”, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I will never be a group again…now that we got that out of the way…let’s talk “Book of Ryan.”
After releasing his last album, “Layers” back in 2016 I didn’t think Royce could top himself…I was wrong. Initially slated to drop in 2016 also along with “Layers”, as his 2nd release of the year Royce told Hot New Hip Hop said this about his most personal album to date “That album is called Book of Ryan, and it’s really, really a lot of the stuff that I want to share.” Moreover, as we see with this new album…he definitely did not disappoint. Featuring the likes of Eminem, J. Cole, Pusha T, Jadakiss, T-Pain and more “Book of Ryan” finds Royce speaking on a variety of subjects such as addiction, vulnerability, domestic abuse, suicide, his childhood and the music industry while still giving us great bars.
Laced with skits that include Royce’s son asking various questions in order to get to know his dad, Royce follows up the questions with introspective tracks like “Cocaine”, “Life Is Fair, “Boblo Boat”, and “Strong Friend”.
Royce starts and end the album off with “Caterpillar” featuring Eminem and its subsequent remix with Logic, which Royce admits he was smoked on both. The song finds the three artist speaking on being disrespected in the music industry, Royce said in another interview with Hot New Hip Hop “The basic theme of the song is, ‘Don’t disrespect the caterpillar to praise the butterfly. Marshall falls a little bit more into that category than I do, but both of us are caterpillars. A lot of times, you’ll praise these guys but gotta tear us down…But where do you think his style came from?”
As the album goes along, Track 8 “Cocaine” is possibly my favorite track and possibly the one track I would play in order to get someone to check out this album. The track is dedicated to Royce’s dad and speaks on his past addiction to Cocaine and how he overcame it in order to keep his family together and how this addiction further influenced Royce as a kid and as a man who would become addicted to alcohol. For those like me with parents with past and/or present addictions, this song speaks to me on how the children are affected. My other favorite track would be “Boblo Boat” featuring J. Cole, this track consists of both artists speaking on their most memorable moments as children, for Royce it was his family’s trips to Boblo Island in Detroit.
The ”Banger” of the album in my opinion would be “Summer On Lock” featuring Jadakiss, Pusha T and Fabolous. This track is just four artist spitting some of their best bars over a fun track and letting their competition know they will not be letting up anytime soon. As the album comes to a close, another standout track is “Strong Friend”, uses his own experience as being that “Strong Friend” to speak on how even those we view as strong and being able to handle everything need to be checked up on, they go through personal issues just like anyone else.
In conclusion, “Book of Ryan”, is an open diary to the man behind Royce Da 5’9”, Ryan Daniel Montgomery and if we never get a chance to see him, again…this album was a great introduction to whom he is.