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.”