Released two years after his official debut Rock City, Royce spent his two-year hiatus entangled in a beef with fellow Detroit natives and former allies, D12. Due in part to a battle with depression, Death Is Certain features a sound considerably darker than that heard on his debut. Royce's new sound garnered him considerable acclaim for the album, with most critics calling Death Is Certain his strongest effort. The album is also noted by many listeners to contain both 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. influences in Royce's lyrics.
The majority of the album was produced by 6 July of Bad Boy Records production team The Hitmen. Other producers featured on the album are Ty Fyffe, Rob "Reef" Teflow, Asar, Mark Bassin, and DJ Premier, who produces the album's lead single, "Hip Hop". Many fans and critics see this as Royce's best work.