How does one (much less a fan) critique a new release by one
of rap's most legendary groups while keeping bias at bay, not easily I can
assure you. Nevertheless this was the task at hand with Run DMC's Crown Royal, a
veritable effort by the Kings of Rock
to hold their crown in the new millennium. Well, the days of shell-toe Adidas'
with the fat laces, big dokey chains, and black Lees' jeans are a thing of the
past, and in some (but not all) respects so is Run DMC. Even upon a quick, first listen it is obviously apparent
that this is much more of a Run solo
album than a Run DMC album. DMC makes
only two appearances, one of these being a hook, on Crown Royal. Furthermore, when DMC's
voice is finally heard it sounds like it was dug up from some unused archive of
Run DMC material, rather than
actually being recorded for the track at hand. To lament even more, Jam Master Jay seems to play a minimal
role on Crown Royal with the likes of
Jermaine Dupri and Stephen Jenkins from Third Eye Blind taking on the production
However, despite these disparaging comments that I've made there are many good moments on Crown Royal, and Run certainly does hold his own. Run displays remarkable versatility; he kicks old school-styled rhymes on the (production-wise) lacklustre It's Over, and Rock Show. Crown Royal has a great beat with majestic horns providing the backdrop for Run's potent rhymes and a DMC chorus. Queen's Day finds Run keeping up with rap heavyweights Nas and Prodigy on a track that will justly find itself on many mixtapes. On close to a third of the album Run DMC attempts to rediscover the rap-rock chemistry that made them the Kings of Rock. Unfortunately, only two of these attempts are successful, in one Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit joins Run on the rambunctious Them Girls, which has hit written all over it. The second finds Everlast lending a helping hook to Run's deftly narrated crime saga in Take The Money And Run. Other notable appearances are made by Method Man, who drops an outstanding verse on Simmons Incorporated, and Fat Joe on the sparse, but catchy Ay Papi.
Sadly, the collaborations with Kid Rock, Jagged Edge, and Sugar Ray fail to make par, especially the Kid Rock assisted The School Of Old which comes off sounding contrived.
In conclusion, Crown Royal is definitely not a classic but it does provide a few jams that many will really love.