Royce Da 5'9                                                     By Selina Thompson

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Better known for his publicised beef with Eminem and D12, Royce Da 5’9 is the prodigy who emerged on his own to become Hip Hop’s best kept secret. The Situation caught up with the turbulent rapper to find out more.

Those who religiously study Hip-Hop circles will be familiar with the infamous Royce Da 5’9. Starting out in Detroit as ‘Eminem’s protégé’ spitting lyrics on his tracks ‘Scary Movies’, ‘Nothing To Do’ and ‘Bad Meets Evil’, Royce went from underdog to spotlight pro with a respectable following. The emerging hype also led Royce to write ‘The Message’ for Dr. Dre’s ‘Chronic 2001’ album and release his solo offering with the DJ Premier-produced track ‘Boom’.

Royce’s name was rising in the talent stakes but as with every rapper, the problem of beef wasn’t far behind. Tension between Royce and Eminem’s group D12 rapidly built up due to ‘jealousy’ over Royce’s growing alliance with the controversial lyricist. Diss records took center stage during the bitter feud and this inevitably led to issues between Royce and Eminem himself, (Royce’s ‘F*** Eminem & D12’ track featured on DJ Watts’ mix tape ‘Heavy Income’). The final showdown was when Royce became embroiled in further beef with fellow rapper Proof of D12, which led to gun charges for both artists. Royce looks back at this event as a moment of madness and now recognises that much of hip hop’s troubles thrives on hearsay. “I heard over the Internet comments that had made me think he had turned into someone else. That night I bumped into him and we touched on old times real quick, after a few words, of course! You just gotta follow your heart and that’s why we’re still here.”

Royce’s new mood focuses on being the man at the top, and his latest mix tape release ‘M.I.C. (Make It Count)’ is evidence of this. Featuring spits from an impressive Detroit line up: Tre Lil, Cutty Mack, Billy Nix, Young Rell, Juan, T-Dot and Royce’s younger brother Kid Vicious, Royce delivers the upbeat lyrical flava for his loyal fans. “I like to do mix tapes in between albums to keep the buzz going. One question that we always come upon is what is Royce up to now? This is just my way of keeping that question answered all the time while releasing new material that I constantly do in between albums.” Legendary for his mix tapes (‘Build and Destroy’, 2003), does he worry about keeping up standards? “The response is real good, nothing negative yet. With all my mix tapes I like to keep it the same by throwing on whatever’s current at the time.”

Royce’s native Detroit continues to be the constant stability in his life and has provided comfort during many turbulent times. Not buckling to the trend of moving sticks when things get rough in the hip hop game, Royce says his family and home city has pulled him through. “There’s no reason for me to leave and all my family is here. You know I operate on the thought ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.” In Royce’s private life, this may be the case, but on the subject of record labels, this artist has endured many publicised ‘creative issues’ over the last four years which resulted in several contract changes. Reflecting on the madness, Royce has no regrets. “If you don’t take risks then you don’t know how far you can go. I like taking risks and suffering the consequences. That’s the only way I learn. I won’t listen to ‘don’t say that or do that’ advice but it’s how I mature and grow. It always felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel so that’s what kept me moving.”

So how does Royce really feel about the labels that proved difficult in getting him to where he’s at today? “It really wasn’t a situation where relationships got ruined and I had to pick up the pieces. The Tommy Boy situation was the closet to a good relationship going bad. They just didn’t know what they were doing and we didn’t know what to do with them; but it was no hard feelings. I moved on and went to Columbia and the relationship is still good there after my move to KOCH Records. At Columbia, it was just a big miscommunication where everyone had different ideas about which direction to take the album (‘Death Is Certain’) and it kinda blew up in people’s faces. I just learned by dealing with different record labels and how to push my projects.”

With time passing, Royce is finally in a position to look forward and cut the malice darkly expressed on the 2003 album release ‘Death Is Certain’. Royce knows his status still has a way to go in getting global recognition and is not concerned with those who still associate him as Eminem’s side-kick. “There are certain people who will always see me with Eminem and there are some people who don’t even know who I am at all. Some people might have heard of me and don’t even care and think I’m finished. I take it all because once I come out and do what I’m really gonna do then they’ll know who I am.” In regards to D12, Royce had this to say, “I don’t really have any feelings about them now. I didn’t feel that they were anymore successful last album than they were with this one. They’ve maintained the success very well and I wish them the same in the future. Right now, I’m pushing the Royce campaign … Royce, Royce, Royce!” (Laughs)

Nearly a decade since this MC blew up the airwaves, Royce (who is named after Rolls Royce because of a similar R shaped emblem he wore at high school), is positive about the current climate of hip hop. “It‘s always been diverse but now it has a lot of different styles which are just coming to light now. I like commercial rap ‘cause if you listen to it, it makes you wonder where it came from to where it is now and the fact people love it. All that really matters now is getting rap closer to being equated with the Motown era and accepted period.”

No doubt Royce will become a permanent fixture in the continuing scene of hip hop and R&B partnerships and throughout the rap game overall. “I see myself getting extremely bigger. I see my company growing and I plan on putting out my brother Vicious. In 10 years from now I see myself in an extremely mobile position.”

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