Royce Da 5’9”: Sargeant Slaughter

If the Internet age has proven to be a blessing for underground rappers, Royce Da 5’9” is the perfect case study. While his initial albums did not penetrate the mainstream threshold, for a few years it was only his unrelenting tour schedule and online presence that kept the Nickel Nine name alive outside the Midwest. Being locked up for several months in 2006 for a DUI conviction didn’t help his career, but teaming back up with DJ Premier for the acclaimed Bar Exam mixtape in 2007 put Royce back into the limelight, and into the ears of a generation that may not have memorized “Boom” while gaming Grand Theft Auto 2. Aside from releasing the second installment of his Bar Exam series for free and prepping his first studio album in years, the King of Detroit was in New Jersey for two weeks last month recording with rival-turned-rhyme partner Joe Budden, and organizing, Slaughterhouse, what could be the most lyrically potent project of 2009. With two Slaughterhouse tracks and the DJ Premier-produced “Shake This” already circulating online and generating a hefty buzz, everybody wants to know when any full-length project involving Royce will be available. As it turns out, sooner than you You were recently in New Jersey recording and getting the Slaughterhouse project worked out. I know Joe Budden and Joell Ortiz were there, but did Crooked I end up there as well?Royce Da 5’9”: Yeah he got on a plane and met us in New York. I don’t know if you heard the new joint that’s out called “Onslaught,” but when he came out that’s when we recorded that song. Crooked was actually in before we even had that meeting at Budden’s house you might have seen on the net, so he was ready to get on the plane and come in to record some s**t. But we started like six different songs already. So you figured that if all four of you guys could meet up and lock yourselves away for a couple weeks that the project could be completed?Royce Da 5’9”: That’s the plan, but we gotta focus on our respective projects first. Ortiz has a project coming out through Koch, Budden has the Padded Room coming out through Amalgam Digital, I got Street Hop coming out through M.I.C./Orchard/One Records, and Crooked just dropped the Block Obama 2. And me and Buddens are going on the road for the next two months with D12, and we’ll be back right after Christmas. So realistically, if could get a couple weeks after I get home to finish my project, I’ll start writing for the Slaughterhouse It’s kind of crazy how quickly you and Budden went from trading a couple shots on your mixtapes to connecting in person and getting in the studio. Royce Da 5’9”: It was just a misunderstanding man, a miscommunication, which happens a lot. At the end of the day real recognize real, and there’s more strength in numbers. It makes more sense to build something together. And we been banging s**t out. We mostly just got around each other and started doing s**t, and it turned into every day. I think our personalities kind of mix with each other, know what I mean? Yeah. If you looked at what the majority of people were saying about you guys a few weeks back, there was the hope that you guys would do exactly that instead of making dis records.Royce Da 5’9”: We both get that Were you handling any other business while you were in the New York area?Royce Da 5’9”: It was mostly recording, but there were a few meetings. We also shot the video for a new joint I got called “Part Of Me.” It’s off the Street Hop album that will be released by March. A lot of what I had recorded over the past year for Street Hop actually leaked out, so I had to go back and start recording new s**t. It’s been a work in progress for a long time, but I actually shifted gears during the work on that project to start the Bar Exam 2, so I put everything aside to do that. I took a couple weeks to do that, and now I’m back in album Speaking of Bar Exam 2, how did you decide to do it with Green Lantern instead of Statik Selektah?Royce Da 5’9”: Well Green is like my man, and the theme of it is to use a different DJ every time. So next time we’ll go with somebody else. If I was to go off strict relationship, I’d use Preem every time cause he’s like my brother. But I definitely wanted to switch it up. I’ll probably go with Drama or somebody like that next time around. I want the theme to be a different DJ every time. Green definitely laced me, and I think he was really able to keep up with the momentum that the first Bar Exam already had And in terms of momentum, it’s been a great year for Detroit artists. Royce Da 5’9”: Yeah I’m proud of everybody from the D, cause they all stepping up in a major way, all at the same time. Overall it’s a good look for us. We got Elzhi, Black Milk, Marv One still ain’t came out yet, King Gordy, D12 still holding down their spot. I’m about to hit the road with D12, and Obie Trice was supposed to be coming with us, but he had some problems getting into Canada. But we’ll be gone for two months with Budden and Classified, so that’s a good look too. We’ve got the whole month of November in Canada, and then we’re in China for four days, and then we’re in Europe for the whole month of December. I’m definitely excited to get on stage with them. D12 and I did a reunion show in Detroit a couple months back. It was good time, a lotta photos and reminiscing, good response from the audience, just a good feel all the way I want to reminisce for a minute. Death Is Certain has certifiable classic status in a lot of circles, but the follow-up M.I.C. mixtape album is probably you’re most overlooked effort. The lead track “Buzzin” was the first time where I remember hearing the ‘blackout flow’ that you’ve developed and become most known for. Do you remember feeling like you were on another level recording those M.I.C. tracks?Royce Da 5’9”: Not that I was trying to outdo Death Is Certain, cause that was just a reflection of where I was at that moment. Death Is Certain was probably my most crazy as an individual at that moment. I’ve calmed down a lot since then, but I was on a whole other page at that time because of what was going on in my life. When I went in there with the M.I.C. mixtape, we was just trying to go in there collectively as a group. It was me trying to give my group shine, put them up on a pedestal, and bring them along in terms of developing. That really was the plan, and it just kind of came out like “ill Royce,” and that was kind of the beginning of the end of D-Elite and all that. [Laughs] So that was basically my mindframe, the same mindframe I always have when I go in the studio. Sometimes I nail it, sometimes I don’t, but I always try and take it that extra little bit further. Even with what I’m doing now, I’m trying to s**t on the Bar Exams. The reception to [Bar Exam 2] is real good, everybody thinks it’s the best s**t since sliced bread, but to me it was just a project that I went and did in two weeks, easy. All I did was grab a bottle of Patron on my way to the studio, take my little brother Vishis with me, crack the bottle open and press record. I was thinking that I’ve got to make every line dope, I was just doing what came naturally to me. So I really didn’t put a lot of effort into that project, so it’ll be that effort times 10 with Street Hop. And then what I’m doing with Joe and them as well, cause they pushing me lyrically. I can’t write the same old s**t if I’m in the studio with them. We’re all into pushing each other.Gun Music (prod. Green Lantern) - Royce Da 5' 9" With the Bar Exam series there is some original stuff, but often you’ve been taking the Top 40 beats and rather than just freestyling, you’re actually creating your own song. Does that come from a motivation to show people that you can do the ‘hit record’ under the right circumstances?Royce Da 5’9”: Man that’s exactly what it is. I want to be compared to who’s song it was originally. Not in a negative way, I just want people to compare. I want them to hear me and listen to the creativity that put into an existing record, and form their own judgment off of that. And so far it’s been a pretty good formula, because I’ve been putting people’s songs in the coffin. That’s basically what my plan You get any calls from those artists?Royce Da 5’9”: Yeah I’ve spoken with a few artists. Ever since I started leaking songs to the net and doing the mixtapesque freestyles, I’ve heard from a few artists. And I definitely think I’ve found the path I want to be on in terms of where I want to go with this rap music. I think that I’m on a good path now and I’m going to stick to this for a couple of years. I ain’t even about to be concerned with radio and all that s**t that artists get headaches trying to think about. I’m just going to keep doing what I do, and so far everything has been coming to me. So I think radio is going to have to come to me eventually, they won’t have a choice.

“Now that I know there’s not a problem between [me & Eminem] anymore and we back cool again, we can kick it and he can talk about his daughter and I can talk about my new daughter. That’s what I’m looking for. The songs and all of that s**t can happen, or it doesn’t have to happen, it doesn’t matter to me. It would be good if it did, cause I’m sure we can go in there and give Hip-Hop lovers a f**king orgasm with what we would do,

but that’s secondary.” The rumor mill is always churning stuff about you. A while back we were hearing about Nas wanting to sign you, then it was Diddy after you wrote for him. The latest buzz is now that you’re back building with D12, you and Eminem might be getting back into the studio.Royce Da 5’9”: Naw, we haven’t been in the studio. We actually only had a few conversations as of recently. And we haven’t even talked about recording with each other. Like I said before, my concern with him at this point is not even about getting in the studio and recording records, it’s about maintaining our friendship which was there from the very beginning. It’s gotten to a point now where his friendship is more important to me than me and him getting back in the studio and actually doing Bad Meets Evil and all that. Now that I know there’s not a problem between us anymore and we back cool again, we can kick it and he can talk about his daughter and I can talk about my new daughter. That’s what I’m looking for. The songs and all of that s**t can happen, or it doesn’t have to happen, it doesn’t matter to me. It would be good if it did, cause I’m sure we can go in there and give Hip-Hop lovers a f**king orgasm with what we would do, but that’s secondary. So where we are in terms of rebuilding our relationship I’m comfortable with. Normally when you’re dealing with a guy like myself and Em, once the friendship is in place everything else comes along Another project that we’ve heard may happen in the next year is a collaboration between you, Black Milk and Elzhi.Royce Da 5’9”: That’s another thing that’s been discussed to the point where we know it’s going to happen, it’s just about figuring out when we’re going to do it. Elzhi is busy, he’s got a lot of other group projects in the works too, so it’s about when we are both going to be at home for a couple weeks or a month at the same time. And Black has gotta come to the table with about 30 beats and we can just go ahead and get it in. But we might as well go ahead and let the Tronic album do what it do, Elzhi’s The Preface too, and after my album comes out it can be anything.Shake This - Royce Da 5' 9" Tell us something about what people can expect from Street Hop. We know it’s got the usual beats from Nottz, Six July and Premier… Royce Da 5’9”:Street Hop will have a few people on it that people probably wouldn’t expect. But Preem is definitely doing his executive producer thing on it. He’s actually flying to meet up with me on some of the tour dates in Canada, cause he still wants to do at least three more new ones for the album. Me and Preem got a lot of s**t we sitting on, but when Preem tells you, “We gonna do new stuff,” we gonna do new stuff. I don’t know exactly what date he’ll fly out cause he’s finishing up on the road too, but as soon as he does he’s going to actually get on the tour bus with me, and in each city we’re going to book a studio and bang s**t out.