CJ – Loyalty Over Royalty

A fun if skin-deep project...

Staten Island rapper CJ’s explosive rise has been one of the more curious drill phenomenons of the past 12 months. His single ‘Whoopty’ become a jaw-dropping trans-Atlantic success, its ubiquitous TikTok virality transforming the admittedly super-infectious cut into his breakout moment.

The overwhelming DSP stats brought a backlash, though, and while debut project ‘Loyalty Over Royalty’ offers a few surprises over its nine track span it will do nothing to dissuade doubters who believe the rapper is surface-over-depth. ‘Politics’ is a crunching opener, it’s ominous swagger asserting itself amid arena-level production.

Indeed, sonically, ‘Loyalty Over Royalty’ is a triumph of major league drill production; the drops have a tsunami-like quality, while the eerie, ice-cold atmosphere drill specialises in is retained amid the surging commercial expectations. “BOP” is a fan-pleaser, while French Montana’s bars on ‘I’m Lit’ signal CJ’s profile reaching rap’s upper echelons.

Understandably, ‘Whoopty’ is the real standout; it’s fine balance of pop nous, snappy, IG-ready bars, and bona fide drill beats becoming an undeniably bold mixture, albeit one that is difficult to truly replicate without losing the initial impact. Often, though, there’s a feeling on this project that if money talks, then it talks loudly – there’s a lack of nuance, with the stunted track lengths (only the closer reaches the three minute mark) prevent the ideas from truly progressing.

Perhaps that’s not the point, though. There’s a marketplace for what CJ delivers, a kind of un-threatening take on drill that preserves the atmosphere and sheer sonic thrill the sound can conjure, a sugar-rush that exhilarates before quickly wearing off, leaving behind a sore head and slightly sore gums. 


Words: Robin Murray

– – –

– – –

Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.


Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.