Released April 15, 2016
- Shine (Skit)
- Lincoln (Skit)
- Hello featuring Melanie Rutherford (Skit)
- Misses featuring. K. Young
- Dope! featuring Loren W. Oden
- Layers featuring Pusha T and Rick Ross
- Quiet featuring Tiara & Mr. Porter
The last few years have been good to Royce. Bad Meets Evil back in 2011 gave him his biggest commercial success. He then joins up with DJ Premier to for PRhyme, extending his streak of quality projects (and breathing new life into Premier’s career). The biggest move he made, however, was becoming sober. So consider Layers the second coming or his re-introduction (as he puts it). As expected with sobriety, people tend to see things clearer than before and behavior accordingly. Royce was already one of hip-hop’s premier lyricists, Layers reiterates that notion, and proves that he has been severely underrated the entire time.
Speaking of clarity, the lead single and the opening track, Tabernacle, is the prime example of this new phase of his career. Although he has shared this story in interviews, it’s only now he ever told this story in his music. It’s not hard to connect his sobriety with his new found comfort level to be willing to record this story. The first two verses takes us through his early life and the beginnings of his career. Then the story truly gets amazing.
Royce has given us bits and pieces of his personal life in his music, but he’s never been straightforward and and serious about sharing it as he is in Tabernacle. Another piece of his personal life he raps about is his adulterous past. The biggest blemish during the last few years was when pictures were leaked of him sleeping after having sex with some random women. As with Tabernacle, it’s not hard to connect his sobriety with his willingness to talk about cheating on his wife. The song Misses might not be as autobiographical or as serious as Tabernacle, but the honestly is still there.
As previously mentioned, Royce is a lyricist. No need to worry, there are a ton of lyrics to delve into. On top of that, Layers is a reminder that if there was such a thing as a Mount Rushmore of flow, he would be on it. Startercoat and Wait are must-listens. There are only two guest rappers, Pusha T and Rick Ross on the title track. In a time where many rap albums have multiple rap features, it’s nice to see an album with a small number of them. Flesh and Dope! are also great moments on the album. A special mention for Melanie Rutherford on Hello. A good track on its own, but does double duty being a good lead-in for Misses.
Royce has always had the talent. Up until this, he would have flashes of the music and his talent coming together. Sometimes it comes together instantly, and sometimes it takes time and effort. For Royce, it was the latter. He needed Slaughterhouse, Bad Meets Evil, and PRhyme. I bet Royce will say he also needed to be sober as well. Maybe now people will being to truly recognize his actual value in hip-hop. Even if he remains underrated, his music is in a great place, and more importantly, so is he.