Royalty Summit is an album curated by the Oakstop Alliance group, a not-for-profit collective helping Oakland artists find success, made in collaboration with New York rapper Homeboy Sandman. Sandman had a busy 2022, releasing an album, a mixtape and an EP as well as curating Royalty Summit. This album continues his hot streak boasting a great amount of talent, some beautiful lo-fi beat production and a plethora of strong verses. Recorded over only three days, the high quality seen throughout Royalty Summit is impressive. Featuring a talented roster of Oakland standouts, the album consists of an enticing mix of talented artists who are allgiven moments in the spotlight.
One of those standouts is Ovrkast. His verse on “The Herb Garden” sees the album temporarily imbued with his distinct style. Ovrkast’s production style targets murky sounds with digital feedback overtop which lead to fascinating loops, usually best fit for moodier tracks. On “The Journey,” his buried sounds remain, but this time the tone is lighter as he leans into a more straight-forward, gentle drum loop and quiet guitar licks atop vocal samples which are left in the back of the mix, forcing the listener to focus on the beat and its intricacies.
The album finds its strengths in the moments when the beat and rappers harmonize. “Programmin’” is the best example of this. Michael Sneed’s beat is extremely soothing and undoubtedly one of the album’s highlights. Honest in 10land again delivers a great verse here, talking about his dreams, sacrifices made and the pain that comes with them. His lines “[I] may be a hoop dream spared by bad decisions, maybe a few deaths’ the reason that I’ve been living, maybe ‘cause they gain exploiting how we lived it, that’s why I encourage my n*ggas to bust their limits” are another of the album’s finest moments, delivered tenderly but with intense emotion. Fuze’s verse on the same track is just as strong, as he raps, “fill up real estate of mind, I pay the fine and I run the bill up,” with unique flow while giving tribute to hip-hop great J. Dilla.
The Oakstop Alliance have curated a strong series of tracks which have frequent stand-out moments and a good mix of high energy songs and mellow mood pieces. The record captures the feeling of a good hip-hop cypher as the artists pass the microphone between one another and deliver great verses, a welcome style for an album consisting of so many different artists working in so many different styles. Homeboy Sandman’s position as the magnet of the album, pulling these artists together, is well maintained and allows the record to feel cohesive whilst also seeing it explore a variety of sounds.