Royce 5’9″ is taking MCs to summer school with the release of his latest mixtape, The Bar Exam 4. Hosted by DJ Green Lantern, the 28-track project is a lyrical clinic over some of today’s biggest hits, including Future’s “Mask Off,” D.R.A.M.’s “Broccoli,” and Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia.”
According to Royce, it’s a celebration of hip-hop that highlights the importance of gratitude and cultural care. “I like how there are so many different groups representing the culture,” he said. “I just want us all to be aware of how much this culture has provided for us and the fight we had to go through to get here. Hip-hop is a very powerful soundtrack to the world that gives testimony to our lives and it should be handled with care.”
To bring that theme home, Nickel Nine enlisted his Slaughterhouse brothers (Joe Budden, KXNG Crooked, and Joell Ortiz) for “Chopping Block,” Westside Gunn and Conway for “Gov Ball,” and Nick Grant and Elzhi for “Still Waiting.” The project also includes interludes with soundbites from Tupac Shakur, Jay Z, and Ice-T. Previously-released heaters like “Wait a Minute,” “Beats Keep Callin’,” and “Keys” also appear on the mixtape.
Royce started The Bar Exam series with Statik Selektah and DJ Premier back in 2007. Since then, he’s released The Bar Exam 2 (with DJ Green Lantern) in 2008 and The Bar Exam 3 (with DJ Whoo Kid) in 2010.
Last year, Nickel unleashed Layers and Tabernacle: Trust the Shooter and this year looks to be just as efficient. The Bar Exam 4 is a precursor to Royce’s next album, which is due this Fall.