Royce da 5’9″ Reveals ‘Merry Go Round’ Behind His Success
On 'Merry Go Round,' a poignant track from Royce da 5'9"s fifth solo album, 'Success Is Certain,' the Detroit-bred rapper gives a run-down of his storied, rapacious -- no pun intended -- past: "My life has been going around and 'round since '95/ Went from going somewhere to about to die," he raps on the Nottz-produced track. Listen a bit further than the hook and Royce Nickel Nine comes clean on his alcohol use ("Went from bein' a kid addicted to basketball to bein' an ignorant n---- addicted to alcohol"), his rekindled friendship with Eminem ("If it wasn't for [former Shady records signee] Cashis sayin' that he gonna beat my a--/ Then me and Em probably wouldn't be laughin' 'bout us gettin' past it") and how being disgraced in the hip-hop community lead to Royce's resurrection in the game ("If it wasn't for me bein' outcasted, I woulda never been on the underground rappin' with Slaughterhouse!")
In 2004, Royce released the solo effort, 'Death Is Certain.' At the time, he had a big weight on his ego-centric shoulders after he entangled himself in a beef with fellow Detroit rappers D12 that lead to his fall out with Slim Shady. "It was a real dark period in my life," Royce tells The BoomBox. "I was very unhappy. I had a lot of beef in the streets. There was a lot of people against me and I was stuck in a zone where all I could rap about was negative s---, failure, people treating me a certain way, powers affecting me. It was just depressing, but it was still my most critically-acclaimed work to this day probably because it had so much emotion and integrity in it."
Seven years later and his beefs aside -- as is obvious from the nine-track, chart-topping joint-EP, 'Hell: The Sequel,' he released with Em in June under the moniker Bad Meets Evil -- Royce is rapping from the other end of the spectrum on his sophomore album's delayed spin-off. 'Success Is Certain' serves as a coming-of-age testament to the thugged-out gangsta rap mentality of the '90s.
"This album and where I am today is the exact opposite," Royce says of his ego-centric and hostile past. "I'm probably more successful than I've ever been right now, and then back then I was probably the most least successful that I've ever been. This album is about that -- it has the same darkness, but the content is a little brighter. It's speaking about overcoming adversity, leaping over hurdles -- just triumph in general, over the same type of production. It's still introspective, it's still emo, but it's just speaking about winning now. Not so much like na-na-nanana," he says making a teasing noise, "but more so 'Wow! I got through that."
Pushed back a month to an Aug. 9 release date, while the Bad Meets Evil album still rides high on the charts -- it is currently No. 10 after seven weeks on the charts thanks to the hit 'Lighters' featuring Bruno Mars -- the 11-track 'Success Is Certain' has already suffered the fate of leaking early online. Three tracks from the album -- the Slim Shady-featured 'Writer's Block,' the album-opener and Travis Barker-assisted 'Legendary' and the DJ Premier-produced track 'Second Place' -- were released previously as official singles.
"Writer's Block' is just raw lyrics letting everybody know where I am; the kind of level I am spittin' on today," Royce says of the lead single. "There's a song that Alchemist produced that's called 'I Ain't Coming Down' that really sticks to the concept of the album. I just try to go in there and keep the integrity. I think everybody knows I can rap, put words together. I'm trying to strike a nerve and say some things that you can relate to and just let you get to know me; tell you my story." The there's 'ER,' which features a cameo from his little brother Kid Vishis.
When asked what has made his own story change towards that happy ending everyone is hoping for, the 34-year-old rapper blames one thing only. "I just grew; some natural maturation," Royce admits. "I think you spend the whole decade of your 20s f---in' up and making mistakes, unless you one of those special cases where you are real mature in your 20s -- I wasn't. So, now that I'm in my 30s, I'm just a lot more mature; I'm able to handle it. The way that I am now, I'm in the position where whatever success comes my way, I can handle it better."