Your Old Droog and PRyhme at Tattoo

Ravenous, reverent crowd comes out for Royce da 5'9" and DJ Premier collaboration

YOUR OLD DROOG and PRHYME at Tattoo, Wednesday, February 25. Rating: NNNN 

Rap’s underground is an intriguing and increasingly segregated place in 2015. On one end of the spectrum, there’s the underground populated with animated rappers primarily from the South and largely powered by style and trendy rap-cum-lifestyle blogs, like Denzel Curry, OG Maco and Peeway Longway. On the other end, there are austere traditionalists who dabble in retro revivalism, like newcomer Your Old Droog and veteran Royce da 5’9, whose pairing with legendary golden-age producer DJ Premier (Royce and Premier perform together as PRhyme) has revitalized both artists. 

On Wednesday at Tattoo, the old heads were every bit as lively as their excitable counterparts. The once mysterious Your Old Droog emerged in mid-2014 with a revivalist intensity so deep, rumours abounded that he was actually Nas rapping under a pseudonym. Live, he showed ample performance chops, rapping passionately over classic instrumentals like DMX’s Get At Me Dog, cracking wise about the border, and exuding a nerdy charm based on a reverence for emceeing that seemed to mirror that of the sold-out Tattoo crowd’s. 

By the time Prhyme hit the stage, the excitement was at fever pitch. Royce da 5’9 and DJ Premier got a heroes’ welcome, with many of the screwfaced audience turning into unabashed fanboys. Royce ran through cuts from the duo’s complex eponymous release with zeal, and dipped into his some of his Bad Meets Evil catalogue with Eminem, moving with the confidence of a superstar. The chemistry between Royce and Premier was palpable – both clearly revere each other and said so several times, drawing an emotional reaction from the crowd.

Critics of this throwback style sometimes chide its makers for their 90s nostalgia. To the 500 or so ravenous fans at Tattoo, PRhyme did just that. And nothing else mattered. 

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