Slaughterhouse is a machine. And today that means while Joell Ortiz and Crooked I are conducting the interview you just read, Joe Budden and Ryan “@RoyceDa59” Montgomery are getting haircuts in a smoky hotel room, courtesy of @JoeBudden, whose nicotine habit is so ingrained that he travels with cartons (not packs) of menthol cigarettes and regularly violates the no-smoking regulations of many establishments. This doesn’t seem to bother @RoyceDa59, who is engaged in an endearing bromance with @JoeBudden.
“He acts almost like a life coach to me,” @JoeBudden, dressed in the same boho getup of worn wifebeater, designer lounge pants and Uggs slippers that he’s been walking the streets of L.A. in, says of @RoyceDa59 while gingerly folding some preppy thug clothes on his bed. “That’s just the bond that we’ve developed. This is my nigga. Listen, if I never rap another day in life and vice versa—that’s my nigga.”
It’s ironic that @JoeBudden and @RoyceDa59 would have such a close friendship, seeing as the roots of the group can be traced back to a musical feud between the two that was played out mostly via YouTube. When asked who won the battle, @JoeBudden quickly points out, “We did”—then he and @RoyceDa59 giggle like schoolchildren and slap palms. (Royce does concede that Joe “out-Internetted” him.) The easy camaraderie between the two is something that seems interchangeable among any and all configurations of Slaughterhouse’s members. They all share the same alpha maleness, the same self-deprecating and brash sense of humor, and just as often than not, they’ll answer questions in the same way at the same time in some sort of unrehearsed symphony. The sense of kinship between this brotherhood of outcasts is uncommon among men, let alone rappers. Onstage, they alternately support and poke fun at each other’s styles, weight and hometowns. In Episode 4 of their welcome to: Our House vlog series, @JoeBudden challenges Ortiz to a feat of strength by playfully calling him a “fuckin’ fat fuck” in front of the crowd. But the two also collaborate for a routine where Ortiz does a pitch-perfect rendition Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” while Budden lip-syncs.
The intangible ties that bind Slaughterhouse are beyond their shared histories as major-label exiles. It’s a connection so deep that @RoyceDa59—who, as half of Bad Meets Evil, re- leased last year’s gold-selling Hell: The Sequel and was undoubtedly instrumental in getting the group signed by his friend/rhyme partner/label boss—doesn’t mind that he doesn’t have a copy of the Slaughterhouse album and only gets to hear it in Em’s presence.
“Eminem doesn’t give us copies of our own music,” he says of the man who has been mixing the 40-plus tracks recorded for the album in their hometown of Detroit. “I think the hackers and the leakers really kind of did something to him mentally, so he’s very overprotective of our music. Our project is his baby, too. We trust his judgment. Whenever we can listen to it, I’m always blown away by it. Picture the way that we rap over the biggest sounding production that you can think of. And I think that’s always what we needed, even as individuals.”
A chance at a “dream fulfilled” is not something @RoyceDa59 takes lightly. “Yesterday was my 10-year wedding anniversary and we had some radio interviews,” he shares. “I have my wife out here with me and I wanted to miss radio, just so I could spend a couple of hours with her because women like memories. Ten-year anniversary, I want her to be able to remember something—other than we had a show tonight.” Still, he went ahead with the schedule, even though the other Slaughterhousers gave him permission to take the night off. “At the end of the day if it’s not successful, I don’t want to look at myself like it was something that I didn’t do.”
To this end, @JoeBudden and @RoyceDa59, with disarming sincerity, requested that their Twitter handles be included in this story. “My whole career is based off eliminating the middle man, whether that be retail, whether that be the label—just making it me and the fans,” says @JoeBudden, a New Jersey–bred former Def Jam inmate whose seemingly endless online videos have chronicled everything from the genesis of Slaughterhouse, physical altercations with other rappers and deeply personal conversations with his romantic partners. “Whether it’s MySpace, Twitter, chat rooms, hip-hop sites, I try to always engage. And the more followers I have, the more I can engage without the middleman. So if the label decides to just up and leave at the drop of a dime, it’s fine—I have my people.”
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