Detroit rhymer Royce Da 5’9′s had a pinball like existence after bouncing around four labels in six years. At one time or another, he’s been with Tommy Boy, Game, Columbia and Koch. At the moment, he’s signed to both Columbia and Koch. “It’s like I got two record deals,” he tells HipHopSite. Koch just dropped Royce’s domestic debut Rock City Version 2.0 and he’s slated to release a follow up LP for them (which he’ll showcase what he calls “the new Royce,” followed by a Columbia full length. But, he’s quick to note their relationship, like his friendship with former pal Eminem, is on shaky ground.
“After that independent album comes out, me and Columbia gotta talk,” Royce says. “I can’t even guarantee I’m gonna be on Columbia.” In a very candid interview, Royce spit about beefs with Eminem and Funkmaster Flex, label politics, his son and lots more.
How did you find out the Columbia version of Rock City was getting so badly bootlegged?
I started getting phone calls. They was coming like in bunches. “Yo, I heard the album was on this and I hear the album was on that.” Then, people actually started telling me that they was buying the album. A couple stores here selling it. None of them would tell, like the sources where they got it from. It was just a real bad thing. It was right after it went to master, so I think it had something to do with the mastering studio.
Do you feel that if Columbia put it out sooner, you wouldn’t have had that problem?
Not necessarily sooner. Honestly, my feeling on the whole bootlegging thing, even though it got bootlegged very bad and everything, I think if they would have put it out the scheduled time they was supposed to put it out, I think it still would have did aiight.
There’s a rumor about you dissing Funkmaster Flex. Maybe you can speak on that.
I said a line, “Funk Flex is dropping bombs ’till he damages thoughts.” You know how Flex drops bombs on records? I said “Funk Flexin’” and people thought I said “Fuck Flex.” I definitely wouldn’t diss Flex. Flex is my man. And Clue, the same thing. They said the same thing about Clue and I didn’t diss him neither. That’s my man.
Sounds like people are listening to your lyrics.
Which is a good thing. I don’t mind the rumors though. In a perfect world there would be no rumors. It wouldn’t be no fun if there wasn’t rumors.
The re-released “Boom” song on Columbia had a new, sung hook on it. How do you feel about that?
Me and Primo never wanted to change the record. When I singed to Columbia, they loved “Boom”, they wanted to put it on the Carmen soundtrack. So when they remanufactured it and packaged it and sent it out, all the DJs said, “Nah, we had this record already, we burnt this record already. Give us another record.” So, Columbia came up with the bright idea, why don’t you just put a hook on it and then maybe the DJs will play it. Of course, me and Preem didn’t agree with it, but we still did it anyway. We sat down trying to come up with stuff and we finally put that hook on there. It went on the Carmen soundtrack like that and it went on the album that was supposed to come out on Columbia, just Columbia. So when we updated the album and changed it from Rock City to Rock City Version 2.0, we went with the original version. We went with all our original, like, dirtier songs and took a lot of the radio sounding records off.
Are you tired of talking about Eminem in all these interviews?
It’s always gonna come up, in every interview. I don’t mind it. Uknowhutimsayin? It’s like, you know, he did a lot for me and my name is obviously connected to his, so of course it’s going to come up. It’s like, not really a big deal to me.
When was the last time you actually spoke with him?
It’s been a while. Actually, I talked to him like right before they went on that last tour, The Anger Management tour. I ain’t really spoke to him since then.
Break down what happened with the Anger Management mixtape.
I did a verse over Busta Rhymes’ beat for the Anger Management mixtape. And somehow, when him/D12 heard it, one of them assumed that I was dissin’ Em in certain lines, I don’t know why. Everything I say gotta be a subliminal dis, but you know, they like that with me. They put it in [Eminem's] head, they finally got him to agree, like “OK, maybe Royce is dissin’ me.” And we never really talked about it, so, he never called me to ask me was I dissin’ him or he never called me to get my whole aim on it, he just assumed that I was dissin’ him, you know, and that’s how all the rumors and stuff started. It’s like, I don’t really have a problem with Slim, I just resent the way he handles these situations. Because it’s like ever since I’ve been around, ever since he got that cool with his crew, which was D12, it’s been like their duty to push me out of shit. Ever since they came, “Who is this guy,
why is Slim helping him for?” It’s been like a jealously thing. And they always been like, trying to compete with me, and anybody who listens to music know it’s no competition. But, it is what it is. So you know, they succeeded in their mission, which was to push me out. So now I guess like me and Slim’s relationship is sabotaged. And really, I’m to the point now where I could care less.
If you ran into him right now, what would you want to tell him? Would you want to tell him you did not diss him? Would you even bother with that?
It’s respect. If somebody is supposed to be your man, and you hearing that oh, maybe my friend might have had something to say about me. I’m gonna call that man. Out of respect, I’m gonna call him and find out what’s going on… But to just say yo, I’m not going to talk to Royce about it forget it, whatever, he must be dissing me. I just ain’t gonna deal with ‘em. That’s weak to me. So if I seen him, I wouldn’t jump into it, because that’s supposed to be him coming to ask me because I did nothing to this man. So if I see him, all it would be is “hi” and “bye”. If he don’t wanna talk about it, I don’t wanna talk about it. I’m grown.
Ball is in his court.
See, what people fail to realize is, our relationship was solid when it started. Now it’s like, whenever you’re in a situation when you’re in a relationship and one of the people are rich and the other is not rich, they determine what the relationship is. He’s determining what our relationship is. He can call me right now, we can be best friends tomorrow if we talk for five minutes. He’s choosing not to do that. That’s not how I deal with things with my friends, but if that’s how he wanna deal with shit, then that’s him.
Have you seen 8 Mile?
Nah, actually ain’t had a chance to. It’s not even nothing personal, I just honestly been too busy to go see it. I’ve been planning to go see it though, I heard it was good.
Was there ever any talk about you joining Emimen’s label at any point?
After my “Rock City” single came out when I was on Columbia, I felt Columbia made a lotta bad decisions. Once again, no disrespect to Columbia, I just felt like they made a lotta bad decisions and I think they kinda messed those records up. So I went to Slim for help again, I went to him and said look, I told him I want to try and come to Shady [Records]. And he said, “Well, I don’t think they’re gonna let you go. But I mean, even so man, I’m so busy man, I got the D12 album, I got the 8 Mile soundtrack, I got Obie’s album. Man, I just don’t want to sign you and have you sitting around. I’m too busy basically. I’m busy.” Right? I said, “Ok”.Three weeks later, he signed 50 Cent.
He didn’t talk to you about that?
No. But this is what I’m saying. I can’t even speak out about certain things because it makes me look ungrateful for the things that he’s done for me in the past. It’s just crazy the way that people’s relationships go. I don’t know if he’s losing respect for me as an artist? Am I not as dope as you? Like, now it’s to the point where I need to just be by myself and not dependent to nobody. I need to just stick, just be Royce and gain that respect back from everybody. I don’t want anybody looking at me like a dependent, ’cause that’s not my character.
What is coming up next from you?
[An album with] all underground cats. Straight up underground cats. I’ll never sway away again. I guarantee you that.
Are you happy with where you’re at today?
I’m satisfied with what I’ve put into it and what I’ve gotten out of it so far, but I’m never content. I try not to get content, because along with content comes being comfortable, and they you kind of slack off or feel like “I made it.” If I make a million, then I want two million. I know I’ve been in the game six years and I’m not like, mad that I haven’t fully blown up yet, I’m definitely not looking at it like that because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. And especially because I’m doing it on my own right now. I’m by myself, I’m not hanging onto Slim no more. This is me, just me. So this is like a new beginning for me anyway.
You wrote the track “Life” for your son. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned that you would impart to your son when he gets old enough.
Don’t get in this business [laughs]…If for some reason, this whole rap thing don’t work for me, which it’d take me another few years to realize it, I’ve lost like eight years. I might as well have went to prison for eight years, because what else can I do now? My advice to him would definitely be don’t even get involved in it. Do something else.
Was that him you were just talking to?
Yeah, he was running with a sucker in his mouth. I hate when he do that.
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