Posted March 16, 2015 by Jeff in Tunes

PRhyme: Filling in what’s missing


For PRhyme’s self-titled debut, DJ Premier only utilized samples from psychedelic producer Adrian Younge. The album, which features guests like ScHoolBoy Q, Mac Miller, Jay Electronica and Killer Mike, has a cool, old school vibe as rapper 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 Boldy James, Premier and Royce will also be performing classics from throughout their storied careers. Royce Da 5’9″ phoned in to talk about the album and tour.

How did the first show go?
It went really good. 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 [rapper] Marshall [Mathers]. I’m up there now with the whole stage to myself. I gotta get used to that.

Talk about how the concept for the collaboration first came about.
It was an idea that a friend of mine from Shady Records had. We wanted to get this kid Adrian Younge, who was heating up at the time. He scored the Black Dynamite soundtrack and Jay-Z had used two beats on his album that were samples. That’s how I heard of him. Timbaland had used his music for Jay-Z. I wanted to know who the kid was. I did my research and find out that he scored the Black Dynamite soundtrack. That’s one of my favorites and I loved the music. I thought, “Is he playing the music himself? What if we got somebody who could sample his music? We would just put an EP out there on limited vinyl. The whole shebang.” I wanted to have a fancy way to do it. The concept itself was inspiring. When I got on the phone with Adrian, he was really cool. That helped. It fell through the cracks with Slaughterhouse. I don’t think the guys were as excited as me. With Slaughterhouse, we try to do things, no matter how good the idea is, only if everybody is equally excited about it. They tend to come out the best that way. I hit up Premier. He was more receptive to doing it that way. We started recording it and sometime during the process 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.

How do you get the beats from Adrian?
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.

He plays the music?
He plays and has a band. He’s like a walking orchestra. He has an orchestra inside of his brain that’s going for 24 hours a day.

You’ve said you wanted the bar to be high. As you were putting the songs together, what criteria did you use to ensure they were measuring up to your expectations?
What I wanted to do was just get really, really lyrical. 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.”

You drop a basketball metaphor into the middle of the title track. Talk about the connection between this album and the NBA.
It changes over every season. Things change so much. Hip-hop is like basketball. A new generation comes in. The rookies come in. They got fresh new haircuts. They’re all skinny and young looking. Next thing you know it, they’re running shit. The older guys who have been around for a minute and all the incredible things that they’ve done over the years, the fans have just gotten used to. That’s Michael Jordan. He just shot another fade away. It’s like that. The novelty wears off. The newer generation becomes your responsibility and you need to make sure you create something that they can follow and respect.

When you leave the game behind or are done rapping, you have to make sure you leave it in intact.

You have a reference to Ferguson in “Wishin’.” What’s your perspective on what went down?
I think it’s a very, very unfortunate situation. The way we’re fed information with the media and whoever else behind it, it can only give an opinion. Nobody knows the facts. Everything is speculation. That’s where all the controversy comes from. I have an opinion. I don’t know if I know enough to say that that police officer is a racist. I know some police officers. They’re afraid and have a chip on their shoulder. There are emotions mixed up in one individual. There’s so much room for error. You gotta learn from it. It’s unfortunate we have to lose lives and super unfortunate that it always happens to be a black kid. That’s makes it worse. It’s starting to look like our community is targeted. That activates more people who don’t know how to handle it and it makes it worse. It’s hard to find a levelheaded individual. It’s just unfortunate.

“Underground Kings” is one of my favorite songs. Were you all in the studio at the same time for the recording?
I wish we were. I called ScHoolBoy Q while he was on the road. He was on his way to Detroit. Just as he was pulling up to Detroit, I was pulling out of Detroit. I put him in the studio. Killer Mike. I had to send the Pro Tools to Atlanta. We didn’t get to do it together but everybody was feeling the joint and it was easy to make the chemistry come across.

Upcoming 2015 Tour Dates

March 17

March 18

March 19

March 20

Dallas, TX – Trees

Houston, TX – WLS

Austin, TX – SXSW

Austin, TX – SXSW


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].