Detroit rapper, producer, and activist Royce da 5’9, showed up at the Sneaker Con in his hometown for a live interview.
Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds invited him to the live panel of their the Juan Ep Is Life podcast to talk about his career highlights, working with hip hop legends, and the way to sobriety and mental health activism. Because the audience in the room was very young, Royce had to explain many things that true hip hop heads have already know, but his info dump only added substance to this conversation.
Royce started from the very beginning of his interest in the culture:
I started writing my raps down at a senior year in high school. I started taking it seriously right after graduation. I started going to the Hip Hop Shop. The first time I went to the Hip Hop Shop I rapped and I got gonged. I almost wasn’t a rapper. That killed my confidence. I thought I wasn’t ready. I walked in there and I seen Proof, Elzhi, Marshall, all of them killers. The Hip Hop Shop was an open mic/clothing sore that was owned by Maurice Malone. Open mic took place in the daytime, it was Saturday. And there were all rappers, all MCs. So what you do is you stand around in the circle and Proof is like the host, he just passes the mic around. If you get it, you gotta rap. And DJ Head is up top on the ones and twos and if you don’t get reaction fast enough then he puts on gong music and you gotta pass the mic. Proof was known as the best MC. He was number 1, for sure. I don’t remember the bars were, but I remember that the bars were very complicated and I used a lot of big words. So that didn’t go over well. I went back again after I started going to a place called the Ebony Showcase. That was a different athmosphere. You go in there, you sign your name, and then they call people one by one based on where your name is. The crowd was in front of you and you stand on the stage and you basically can pick your own beat. It’s way more controlled, it’s a different type of environment. It won’t killed your confidence. Being around those killers… They were just too good.
Then Royce talked about how Eminem and Co looked for an outsider, as Royce was exactly that in this point of time:
When I walked in there, I didn’t know anybody. I already heard about Proof. Marshall did not rap that day. They pretty much knew each other, it was like a fraternity. I could tell that everybody was familiar with each other a I was kind of an outsider. I was younger that all those guys.
Yet still, Royce persisted. He cut his teeth I the Ebony Showcase, came back and proved himself as a rapper, he succeded. What did happen next?
I just kept going. Bad Meets Evil, the vinyl, was probably the first thing that I was a part of that came around. Around 1997. And I graduated in 1996. I heard “Infinite” before I met Marshall. “Infinite” and “The Slim Shady EP”.
Time was moving fast, and soon Royce and Eminem became friends. How long it took for them to get close?
As soon as we met. Do you remember “The Tabernacle”? I met him the night my son was born. We have already heard about each other. I was opening up for Usher at a show. He heard me kick the acapella on stage, and he asked to meet me. So, we met each other, exchanged numbers and we started talking on the phone and that’s how the song “Bad Meets Evil” ended up happening. Once we did that, he took a liking to me, he got his deal with Dre and the rest is history.
The rest id well known history, you might think. But there are always a bit of two of new information in interviews like this. Apparently, there was a hidden agenda in te Bad Meets Evil deal, reveals Royce:
I can’t remember exactly all the particulars but Paul [Rosenberg] wanted to set it up to where Em can do things outside of his deal. Also to help build me up. So we were just rapping with each other. And we wanted to loop Brief into the equation, we wanted to loop The Alchemist into the equation. So we just kept doing shit together. And at that time, I also became Em’s hypeman for a minute. We were just together all the time. We were just building.
Watch the video below: