The same day he rapped and produced on Eminem’s surprise album, Music To Be Murdered By, Nickel Nine drops the second video glimpse from a collection of songs that promises to be another benchmark in his discography. “Overcomer” features Griselda’s Westside Gunn (who is also signed to Em’s Shady Records) . The single follows November’s “Black Savage” video. Both songs are slated for inclusion on Royce’s The Allegory, which is exclusively produced by Royce and is expected next month.
Although the video comes with a disclaimer, it features a storyline of a bedroom rapper pursuing a plan. He is jumped into a set, builds his gang persona, only to get kidnapped, and eventually testify against his allies. Complete with rainbow-colored hair and face tattoos, the narrative perfectly overlaps what’s happened with Tekashi 6ix9ine in 2019. The Brooklyn, New York rapper is expected to be released from prison later this year, a majorly reduced sentence in exchange for cooperating with the federal investigation against his former colleagues and management team.
The lyrics also raise eyebrows with commentary about Rap peers. Royce uses “Overcomer” as an opportunity to send some warning shots at Yelawolf, a former collaborator and Shady Records label-mate. He issues a warning to the Ghetto Cowboy artist he calls a vulture. Royce spits, “Yelawolf, this is your first and your last pass / I ain’t gon’ put it on blast, your punk-ass know what this about / You think it’s about being loud or trying to be hostile / Til’ you get found face-down on the ground outside of Kid Rock house / Though you a vulture pundit / I hope you get sober from this / men like, women lie, so do numbers.” Notably, Royce does not state Catfish Billy’s infraction. However, it arrives at a time when the Gadsden, Alabama MC/producer has dabbled with Rock and Country following his early 2010s Hip-Hop breakthrough.
Without mentioning Yelawolf by name, Royce addressed the diss on a recent guest spot on The Joe Budden Podcast. “[Yelawolf is] gonna know why [I am calling him out] He [is] gonna know why, for sure,” Royce said to his Slaughterhouse co-founder, without naming names. “I mean, It’s a situation going on, especially in Hip-Hop, Okay: We have all kinds of different people, but we have a type of person in particular. We have white people, white people who come into the business and they use the culture—which we got a very open culture, it’s here for everybody to thrive. We got some white people that come in and use that, and then go and do very evil things behind closed doors—very evil, racist things behind closed doors. They make comments and stuff like that.” He added, “I have to start holding these people accountable. Because if you don’t, the cycle just continues.” In 2014, Eminem, Slaughterhouse, and Yelawolf appeared on “Psychopath Killer.” The song followed some label-themed appearances where Nickel and Yela’ shared the mic. On Twitter, Royce recently called out fellow Michigander Kid Rock for questionable remarks surrounding the closing of his restaurant. Royce, referring to Yela’ as “David Duke,” has shared a response from the opponent. In the screenshot, the Slumerican creator called Nickel Eminem’s “hype man” and warned him of “wolves.” The Alabama artist also used the hashtags #NewSouth.
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The track opens with W.S.G. recalling his street exploits, and looks at what he overcame to become a self-made Rap star. Both men appear in the video. Gunn, a former inmate and real-life hustler in his past, is on TV when the fictional characters looks on from his comfortable couch. Both he and Royce are rapping to the camera.
When the song gets there, Royce’s verse scorches. “In search of right like the birth of Christ / Breakin’ every generational curse in life / Perverse concise make sure the verse is right / Return who it verse to the Earth, make sure that my hearse is white,” begins Royce on a song about the obstacles that he has overcome simply by being Black in America. “I don’t rhyme for the likes, I’m who the jealous target / I’m underground for life, this sh*t is a seller’s market / The rich get richer, the poor get more greedy / We need Clarance A. to get what’s owed in these board meetings,” Royce spits a few bars later. He salutes Clarence Avant for stepping up on behalf of Black artists to get a fairer shake from the powers that be.
He closes with potent lines that look at those—Black and white—who died in struggle. “Martin got shot on the Lorraine balcony, became alchemy / Was spit on at the hospital when suffocated by the doctors / Michael was sniped at six at night, precisely by a laser / Mac Miller died pleadin’ for his life, reciting God’s Prayer / Immaculately conceived, the product of Nas’ labor / Ain’t sh*t like me, I’m Chris Lighty, I’m Violator / Dedicated to the edification of sellin’ blackness / I feel like Dame yellin’ at Kevin Liles over leather jackets / Prince, when he told Nas, ‘Own your masters or your ass-out’ / Best rapper between Cardi and Meg The Stallion is Kash Doll.” Kash is a fellow Detroit native.
The Slaughterhouse/Bad Meets Evil member’s eighth solo album is releasing on February 24, according to Rolling Stone, who premiered the video. YBN Cordae, Conway The Machine, Benny The Butcher, and G Perico join Gunn, CyHi The Prynce, T.I., and others as guests. Since long before Griselda joined the Shady family, Royce has been a steadfast advocate and collaborator. Most recently, he appeared on Benny’s Tana Talk 3.
In a behind-the-scenes look at the song and video, an amped-up Westside Gunn said, “This song is stupid; it’s really produced by me.” Gunn goes on to say how Royce emailed him a batch of instrumentals. “I was like, ‘Nah man, I’m here now, I’m in the D, let’s cook from scratch,’” says Gunn. “He was going through sh*t, he just played that sample. ” Then Royce, who produced the track added, “I was like ‘it’s only two bars it’s not enough. He was like ‘yes it is!’ I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ He was like, ‘My ni**a, this is beautiful, I’ll play this sh*t at my wedding.’”
Last year, Westside Gunn released WWCD with Benny and Conway on Shady Records. That album was named among Ambrosia For Heads‘ best of the year. On the solo side, he released Hitler Wears Hermes 7 and Flygod Is An Awesome God.
Video interviews with Royce 5’9 and Westside Gunn are available at AFH TV. We are currently offering free 7-day trial subscriptions. New music by Royce and Gunn is presently on the official AFH Playlist.
Additional Reporting by Bandini.