Royce da 5’9″ Talks No.1 Bad Meets Evil EP, Eminem Relapse
"It was always a goal of mine to hopefully retire my father someday," rapper Royce da 5'9" tells the BoomBox. It's lightning outside, and Royce Nickel Nine is sitting on a golf cart behind the Bonnaroo main stage, one hour before he will join Eminem for the biggest concert of his life, playing to some 80,000 people. During their set, the Detroit native will perform the song in question -- 'Lighters,' off his Bad Meets Evil project with Eminem -- where Royce raps from the heart about having his father finally hang up his postal uniform. "I'm so tired of hearing him complain about his back," Royce explains. "I was always a daddy's boy; always looked up to my daddy. So that's just a goal of mine for my parents to chill, while they are still young. If they could spend their 60s and 70s just chillin', that'd be good for me."
This week, Royce da 5'9" has found himself reaching yet another life goal: No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart after the Bad Meets Evil album, 'Hell: The Sequel,' sold 171,000 copies. According to Billboard, the closest Royce da 5'9" has been to the top of the charts was No. 110, following the release of 2009's 'Street Hop.' For Royce, the whole idea of the Bad Meets Evil joint-album -- a recent hip-hop trend that began with last year's David Banner and 9th Wonder hybrid 'Death of a PopStar,' 2011's 'Money Music' with Glasses Malone and Mack 10, and includes in-the-works mash-ups from Jay-Z and Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg -- all happened haphazardly.
For a good part of the last decade, Eminem and Royce da 5'9" didn't talk to each other. The hip-hop beef started when Eminem and his beloved D12 crew misinterpreted a freestyle Royce submitted for the 'Anger Management' mixtape, an ironic title considering their collaboration is titled Bad Meets Evil. Royce doesn't like talking, let alone thinking about the highly publicized war of words.
"In terms of us getting back together, it's always easy to rectify a problem that shouldn't have been a problem in the first place," he reveals. "As soon as you put communication back to it, it's easy. All it took was for me and Em to talk and the D12 guys were adamant about facilitating that, after we made-up. Once me and Em got back talking, everything else was second nature. It just fell back into place. D12 let him know our beef was squashed after we had gone out on tour together before Proof passed. Everything was all good. Em just didn't know it. They let him know and they stayed on him, 'Us and Royce is back cool, you should call him.' And then one day, he just decided to call me and it just went from there."
All of the songs on the album were recorded in the hip-hop duo's native Detroit, mostly at Eminem's studio. "We just start cutting records, just for the fun of it and for old times sake," Royce admits. "I'd come in with a verse or something and run it by Em and he might like it, put a verse on it. Or, I'd come to the studio and he might have a verse. He might have been doing a feature for somebody and he might've had an alternate feature and it'd be a verse just sitting and I'd come add a verse to it. We look up and it's five or six songs that we really like." Royce and Em didn't really know what they were going to do with songs, but they knew they liked what they had. "I looked at him like, 'Yo, We like this music. You have a record label, so lets put it out," Royce says. "It kinda just happened like that. It was nothing we planned from the beginning. It just manifested itself into what we call Bad Meets Evil and here we are."
When it comes to Bad Meets Evil, Em is the evil and Royce is the bad, and while the two maniacal ying-yangs are pretty synonymous with another, Royce says they're the characters they find themselves naturally jumping into. "I might rap about shooting somebody and then Em might rap about burning somebody's cat -- that's a little more evil," he states. "Even though they are both bad, burning somebody's cat, that's like something you have to do with your eyebrows slanted in like that."
As much of a record for the current times that 'Hell: The Sequel' is -- it has features from Bruno Mars and Royce's rap supergroup Slaughterhouse, who are also signed to Em's Shady Records, as well as some big name producers like Mobb Deep's Havoc -- the album also sees Eminem returning to his old self on some tracks, like the Mr. Porter-produced 'I'm On Everything.'
Porter originally chopped a piece of Mike Epps' standup for Royce's forthcoming album, 'Success Is Certain,' out in July. 'When Porter gave me the beat, I thought the s--- was genius," he reveals. "I brought it to Em after we got back tight, and asked him if he'd consider being on it." The song snippets Epps talking about the youth being "on everything" -- "Syrup. Painkillers. Cigarette. Weed. Hennessy. Vodka."
For Eminem to jump on the track, it meant a return to the real Slim Shady after two No. 1 solo efforts that rode the wave of sobriety, 'Relapse' and 'Recovery.' But Royce is quick to point out that it's only lyrical relapse. "All that is, is Eminem getting back to his old ways on the mic with his old friend and as long as it stays on wax, I find that it's perfectly harmless. A lot of people wanted to hear the old Em again. As long as we respect his sobriety out of the booth and he remains that sane, clear-thinking sober guy that never feels like looking at a pill or drink again, I'm good," Royce says. "He can rap about whatever he wants."
Watch Bad Meets Evil's 'Fast Lane'