Royce Da 5’9
Not Going Back

royce-new1.jpgRoyce Da 5’9” has been grinding to establish himself as one of rap’s most respected MCs since 1999, when he was featured on Eminem’s standout track “Bad Meets Evil” from The Slim Shady LP. Three years later, Royce dropped his solo debut, Rock City, and in the next six years has put out three more projects—2002’s Rock City (Version 2.0), 2004’s Death Is Certain and 2005’s Independent’s Day—and several big mixtapes. Known mostly for his monster freestyling and being a master at battle rap, Royce has struggled to earn mainstream respect, suffering mostly from the aftermath of a fallout between him, Eminem and D-12.

Things recently got dicey for the D-Town MC, in September of 2006, when the rapper was sentenced to serve one year at Oakland County Jail in Michigan for a parole violation following a DUI. After serving a three-month bid, Royce is free from the pen and ready to roll, with a new mixtape called The Bar Exam on the way from DJ Statik Selektah. He’s also working on his next album, which has yet to be titled but will come out this year on his label, M.I.C. Records.

xxlmag.com recently talked with Royce about his memorable friendship with slain rapper Proof, legal drama and being proactive in hip-hop today.

You were locked up for 90 days, and you just got home over the holidays. Your girl was pregnant while you were gone. You must’ve had a big strain on you lately.
Yeah, it was a big strain. That was the hardest part of it to deal with. I’ve never considered myself a criminal kind of dude or jail type of hard criminal or something like that. It’s just something I felt God put on me for a reason. The hardest part of being away for that amount of time was being away from my family and being creative.

So you got closer to the Lord when you were inside?
I ain’t go in there and get all religious. I always believed in a higher being, always been of Christian faith. God is either protecting me from something or he wants for me to take some time off and think. Maybe I might’ve been going too fast.

Were you plotting your career when you were locked down, in terms of songs stacked up? Where was your mind at?
I’m plottin’ all the time. I’m plottin’ right now. When I was in there, I wasn’t doing a lot of writing when I first started off. In there, I had to actually get used to doing the time, so it wasn’t a lot of phone calls home. I didn’t really respond to no letters or nothing like that. I just really had to get used to myself being in that environment. Once I was able to actually get well-adjusted and get used to the food and just get used to waking up every day and actually crack jokes and shit, I started writing. I started figuring out how to get my alone time, ’cause there was a lot of niggas around me all the time. So I had to get my alone time, ’cause that’s when I write best, when I’m alone. Solitude. When I found out how to do that, I was good.

Do you think you’ve gotten stronger with it since you’ve been out?
Yeah, ’cause I came up with a lot of ideas and concepts, and I just kept to myself, and when I got out, I just started laying them down. That’s the best thing to do. I told myself, from now on, before I do an album, I’ma actually take some time off without nothing. Maybe just the pen and the pad and just vacation, not even nothing extravagant. I can jot down thoughts, and when I come to the table, I’ll have so much ammo that I can just go ahead and knock that shit out.

It seems like your recent bid was a gift and a curse.
It is, and it’s not even really a curse. Things happen, and it didn’t set me back too far. Before I went in there, you had people that was saying I’m finished. And those same people will be jumping back on my dick as soon as I come out with something. That’s how muthafuckas is, and if you can get through that, then you can get through anything. I did a lot of things too early in my career. I think I was too ahead of the curve, like five records with the Neptunes when I was signed to Tommy Boy. People didn’t get it back then. You fast-forward two years and these muthafuckas is having Pharrell do all they shit.

What was the first thing you did when you got out?
Came to the crib. I got on work release, so I actually use my house as an office, so I can write and do interviews like I’m doing right now. First thing I did was come to the house, kissed my girl, ’cause she was very pregnant. I got ahead right on the phone and started doing interviews. I’m making up for lost time.

It’s real tough out in Detroit, where you’re from, since it’s an urban industrial city. How do you view it?
The same as always. I don’t like to talk bad about Detroit, because this is home to me. Everybody got their horror stories about their own cities, and it’s always gonna be worse for you when you go somewhere you’re not accustomed to and you see it firsthand. We suffered several losses. We lost my man Proof, my man Blade. My man Obie got shot in the head, probably for nothing. Because these are significant, somewhat famous people, it’s making people look at Detroit like, “Wow, when did this start?” It didn’t just start. It’s been here. You can’t improve on violence. The only way to improve on violence is to stop doing it.

royce-new2.jpgMost fans don’t even realize how close you and Proof were. His murder must have had an immense effect on you.
Yeah, that was my nigga. The problems started with the game. Just like with Eminem. It was a bond in the beginning, and things that were political got in between and intervened. That comes with the territory of being in this business. But me and Proof were real good friends. Me going to his Grandmamma house every time I finished a song and us playing it. And I remember him pressing record on another Maxwell tape, wanting a copy as soon as I put mines in, before he even heard it. We was real cool. It was a relationship even before I met Em. It was solid with Proof. That was like ’95.

Has his death brought you and Em closer at all?
Nah, not at all. I think Em has a lot he has to deal with over there. You know, I got my separate problems.

But y’all ain’t on bad terms?
We aight. We just don’t talk. There’s nothing really to talk about at this point. I think we both made our minds up on what it is, and that’s it. Two people can agree to disagree and leave it at that. It don’t have to be a problem.

Let’s switch gears a bit. You’ve been in the game and had major-label experience and are now signed to your own independent label, M.I.C. Records. How did that work out?
We had different experiences on the different labels. Columbia, Tommy Boy and Koch. I got to know all of these systems and figured, “Why don’t I try to factor some of this shit into my own thing.” I was going through a lot at the time, because I had the powers that be against me. I was like, “You know what? I’ma just go ahead and do it myself,” and factored everything I wanted into my own project and see how it works.

Do you feel like you’re underrated as an artist?
MCs feel me, so I’m not underrated at all. I don’t think I’m as well-known as I should be for the type of material I’ve done. I think I got classic songs. You gotta be that type of hip-hop listener to know about me. I just think I’ve failed to go as mainstream as of yet. That’s where we always went wrong in the past. Being more on the business side of it now, we’re ready to capitalize on that.

You’ve been consistent, doing the independent route with respect. Is the mainstream aspect all that important?
It’s not me compromising in any way. It’s something that hip-hop needs. Don’t just talk about it, be about it. Be proactive. Hip-hop is in a state right now where it needs something else. And I think these kids now are being cheated, because they’re growing up in a new generation, where it’s just one thing year after year after year. It’s not evolving fast enough. It’s staying one way. They need to get firsthand these type of classic albums that are like movies. Every song is like a scene out of a movie. You know, these epic albums. They need that.

So now you’re out and focused. What can we expect from Royce in 2007?
I’m gon’ take a portion of the game over. It’s gonna be the type of album to make all the artists worry when they hear it. Like how the fans are gonna perceive it, ’cause of the state hip-hop is in now, I can’t say. Nobody can do what I can do. Just picture the mind frame Nas goes into making an album, the mind frame Jay goes into making an album, the mind frame Em goes into making an album, and put it all together, all elements off of all those albums. The diversity of what they’re best at doing.

What about a mixtape. Anything along those lines for the streets?
Yeah, I’m working on a mixtape right now. I kind of finished it with DJ Statik Selektah. It’s coming out in a couple of weeks, called The Bar Exam, end of January, and I’m working on some shit with my man G-Spot out of Ohio. The Internet presence is crazy!

Sounds like you’re going hard to disprove the notion that hip-hop is dead.
I don’t believe that hip-hop is dead. I think that it’s lacking the creativity. I think there’s a lot of talented people out who don’t challenge themselves to be as creative. But it’s a whole bunch of people that’s so talented you can’t ever call it dead.

  • slick

    ROYCE 5’9 IS THE TRUTH!

  • dj chuck boogie

    Royce is one of the most underrated Mc’s out there

  • blaQ

    This dude should have blown up 5 years ago….its about time Royce. do the damn thing. Holla at Nasir.

  • Frizzler

    1st BITCHES

  • http://myspace.com/blizzlecorleone blizzlecorleone

    yooo!! u just dont know how long i been waitin on royce to get this kind of recognition, he deserve it…if you ask me he one of the very few people that can really save hip-hop, let alone our city….royce make that kinda music u can look foward to waking up in the morning to…and he aint never been on that cool-aid music shyt….he’s my motivation.

    myspace.com/blizzlecorleone i got some free tracks off my mixtape posted on my page….let me know what u think….its the hottest shyt in the hood right now!!! oh yea FUCK DIPSET!!!!!

  • http://myspace.com/blizzlecorleone blizzlecorleone

    MYSPACE.COM/BLIZZLECORLEONE

  • http://myspace.com/precisehiphop Precise

    First.

    Glad to hear Royce is doing his thing, he is one of the illest MCs in the game period.

    Doesnt hurt that DJ Premier is taking over his career either. Time to just sit back and watch how it go down

  • Stacy

    mutha fuckas have slept on Royce for years…listen up!!!

  • OG Frank

    I feel him

  • OG Frank

    Waitin’ for the album!!!

  • jdubb

    one of the most underrated of all time…go listen to “boom”, “t.o.d.a.y.”, “let’s grow”, and “I & Me” if you don’t believe me..

  • SixTwo

    So are Royce and Obie cool or not? If they are, then who was dude talkin about in ‘Return of Malcolm’ when he was talkin about “…you need beef with me like you need a whole in ya head” and all that shit??

  • xtc

    i hope he finally blows up ccuz im tierd of this dirty south shyt i actually stoped litsenin to da radio

  • Eman

    Damn xxl yall acting like the dude just did a bid shit he only did 90 days yall act like hes on some shyne shit or mystikal which i did here on the radio the other day and made me wonder when the fuck hes suppose to get out oh yeah whens the big lurch interview comin man I cant wait for that day

  • http://www.myspace.com/3ndles3records myspace/3ndles3records

    Royce is da shit yo! he’s underrated.

  • Illnavis

    Yo whats crackin Royce, You might not remember me but I used to Roll on Rutland and Warren with Steph and Tez and them. I went to the studio back in the dayz in the Greenfield plaza wit Bo Little. Ask that nigga about the Puerto Rican Mc with him. You know nigga. Keep ya head up and Smash the airwaves dog. Glad to to see you out dog…

  • http://XXLMAG.COM RICHMOND,VIRGINIA

    90 DAYS AINT NO TIME I .WHAT UP WIT YALL NIGGA . I DID AREAL BID B 4 CUM GIVE ME THAT EXPOSURE.LOOK 4 THE CONNECT IN 07

  • G

    good read thanks

  • Excluesive residing N VA

    I feel U my dude now thats real talk I just think that all us independent & unsigned artist that really be flowing on some real hip-hop shit & is serious & care about this hip-hop shit need 2 do are thing in 07 I know I am bout 2 1

  • http://www.myspace.com.com/malvocalz wishman

    Em didn’t want a black man as dope as him to shine that’s why they don’t speak. Royce is as every bit as dope as Em is. Matter of fact I don’t like the way Em spits now. All he does is scream. The lyrics are there but that angry tone needs to go. Dude’s a millionaire like 20 times over. Relaxe and go back to the old Em. He should hang with Royce and get his style back. Welcome back Royce. Black Power. Yeah, I said it.

  • http://www.xxlmag.com L.A.’s Finest

    I’ma get the mixtape, this fool has skills.

  • mike man

    secodn best outta D town right after em

  • http://www.nickelnine.com Nytlyf Ent

    Royce is the best out there , thats how i feel. makes me sick seeing a tony yayo album come out and do ok numbers. Royce has a vocabulary none of these so called MC’s have that. Dude is crazy how he uses words and tells stories in some of his material. Royce would destroy anyone in hiphop lyrically.

    Royce is hiphop … period…

  • J S-O-T

    Royce is right up there wiv the best, he ain’t as relevant as maybe Jay or Nas but he’s maybe the most consistent, easily top 5 since the turn of the millenium

  • waiiit!!!

    when royce get mainstream it will all be ova. him and weezy doing it big. eminem been wack eversince his third cd.

  • woman wit money

    yea royce the game aint got no creativity. yall notice how these wack rappers wit big singles aint selling albums, like jim jones, dj unk, jibbs, fat joe, d4L, young dro, chingy, yung joc…and so on. But real artists like jay, ludacris, lil wayne, nas, and t.i. Doing over 200, 000 first week of sales. hip hop is not dead. people know real rap, they should be buying.

  • HuRrIcAnE BiTcHeS

    Im going to be real…I am a big fan of royce and i am really anticipating this cd! But u know what…i dont know why! Because he isnt really that good…He just has Premo beats, so thats why i like him. I dont know..im a fucking weirdo

  • http://NONE KILLA BLACK

    ROYCE WAS ALWAY HOT,THAT ALBUM HE DID ON KOCH WAS CRAZY, DO YOUR THING ROYCE. BUT THE FUTURE IS HERE (myspace.com/blu-black)

  • R-iZZy

    good to see Royce back on it. it sounds like he’s focused to drop a fuckin’ killer on hip-hop. i hope him and Nas can hook up. if we can’t get Bad Meets Evil, we might as well get something almost as good.

  • Knowledge Speaks

    Nickle Nine niggaaaaaaaaaaaz!

  • Genius The Misfit

    Preview what is quite possibly the greatest mixtape of all time at: MySpace.com/geniusthemisfitmusic

  • http://www.myspace.com/jokkjazzz JokkJazz

    Wanna check some real music?

    http://www.myspace.com/jokkjazzz

  • kondadon

    wheres that new primo shiet?
    heard they was doing a whole album together..

  • I suck cock for a living

    Nas is gay i should know i was his fuckboy for 5 year’s he used to make me suck his juicy cock everyday, you know what they say about the black man he had that 10 inch in my ass everyday.

  • X. A

    I believe mainstream is in Detroit
    So Royce is from, I feel him a lot

  • http://yahoo.com X. A

    I belive mainstream is in Detoit
    So Royce is from, I feel a lot.

  • thatdukeSuave

    Wishman: Royce is tight, but why if you like him means you gotta hate on Em? You don’t know what the fuck happened btw them, I don’t know, they know. But him tryin to “hold the black man down” argument is lame as fuck. What fuckin white artist has Eminem signed? Any white artist Eminem has even featured or recorded with? Shut the fuck up

  • http://ALLHIPHOP REGION HATERS HATER

    man these blogin ass yanks with there bitchin about the south. support your artists instead of shairing files. then maybe some yank might get radio play. until then throw some d’s on it and shoulder lean hahahahahaha

  • hiphopisdead

    Cool now that he’s free lets FREE SHYNE

  • TrillGates

    Punch line rapper. Ho azz nigga. + he scared of em, d-12 and g-unit. That nicca royce got flows but the man he is don’t back up is words. Cant support that.

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  • sureshot

    One of my fav and most respected artists ever. This guys should not be hard to market, got looks, a interesting history, and most importantly a very very lethal flow. SIGN HIM PLEASE! ANYONE!!!

  • http://dirtythug.com Creepflow

    Royce need ta sign wit Nas.

  • http://www.myspace.com/zeeprod Zee Prod.

    Tupac, Biggie, Big L – Deadly Combination ZeeMix

    The Game – One Blood ZeeMix

    Nas – Hope ZeeMix

    Prod. By Zee…Hottest Beats Comin from the UK, and from a 16 year old!
    feel free 2 add the tracks to your profiles.

    http://www.myspace.com/zeeprod

    -ZEE

  • SPHYNX

    …hE sHuD sTaRt TaLkIn 2 Em, If ShYt StIlL dOn WoRk OwT dEn Go On 2 DeF jAm ImAgInE, nAs/JaY-z/RoYcE dA5’9”…

  • OZ

    wishman Says:

    January 24th, 2007 at 7:12 pm
    Em didn’t want a black man as dope as him to shine that’s why they don’t speak. Royce is as every bit as dope as Em is. Matter of fact I don’t like the way Em spits now. All he does is scream. The lyrics are there but that angry tone needs to go. Dude’s a millionaire like 20 times over. Relaxe and go back to the old Em. He should hang with Royce and get his style back. Welcome back Royce. Black Power. Yeah, I said it.

    This motherfucker needs to shut the fuck up wit that white power shit come down to the 412 n say that shit ull get fucked up cuz…..1

  • homegrownhits

    hell nah royce ain’t underated, like he said he gets respect from mc’s. the critics who actually count respect him, u can’t say anything about a hip hop artists merit as judged by the general rap audience now, cuz they sheep. their respect doesn’t matter, and their tastes are fickle. he’ll have fans/consumers of his music as long as he keeps pumpin out quality and classics.

  • http://www.myspace.com/zeeprod Zee Productions

    Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal ZeeMix

    Tupac, Biggie, Big L – Deadly Combination ZeeMix

    The Game – One Blood ZeeMix

    Nas – Hope ZeeMix

    Prod. By Zee…Hottest Beats Comin from the UK, and from a 16 year old!
    feel free 2 add the tracks to your profiles.

    http://www.myspace.com/zeeprod

  • zack

    royce is has always been the illest from the D. no one from Detroit could ever fuck with royce. royce has always been better than Eminem since the begining. and not many in the industry can fuck with royce either

    i cant wait for this nigga to blow

  • Smokin Trees like I was Drunk

    you fools are whack, hes the nigga that got Obie shot, D-twizzie bitches

  • Cel

    How d’f*ck does that down south garbage get more airplay than Royce? Anybody past the 3rd grade can write some young joc and rich boi sh*t. And for the record Royce probably the only MC that could X eminem if he wanted to…but he allows him to breathe out of respect.

  • Listenup Diddy Squashers

    The guy he was talking about in the return of malcom wasnt obie if you read the interview right they talk about him being obies fried we lost my man obie, proof, and blade the person was Dead Prez

  • Listenup Diddy Squashers

    GEL Im right there with u but most of them dropped out of school so their minds be like blank royce is a sure shot

  • PT Frontline

    GEL im right there with u but most of them dopped out of school so there minds be like blank royce i guess speakes from the heart and has a little bit of knowledge since he did finish school after all he is a sure shot

  • http://xxl.com Young Gutta Aka paper boy(Long live da king) MW-Cuzzo da king

    Dude is cool…not wat errbody saying he is…

  • http://www.illestlyrics.com complexity

    dope interview. Royce can kill any emcee lyrically.

  • http://plusgigs.com/ google plus hangouts

    xMyhBp Wow, great article post.Thanks Again. Really Great.