Royce Da 5'9" has aligned himself with some of the biggest names in hip-hop throughout his career, whether it be with his partners in crime in Slaughterhouse or as one half of the duo Bad Meets Evil alongside Eminem. But now he's about to take on a new accomplice in the hip-hop world with his new group PRhyme with DJ Premier. But don't think that this is the second coming of Gang Starr—far from it. Instead, Royce and Premier are setting out to craft a new musical landscape, with their first full-length LP, announced earlier today, crafted entirely out of Adrian Younge samples.

But that's not the only thing Royce has going on; Shady Records is celebrating its 15th anniversary this November with a label compilation of new material and greatest hits, Slaughterhouse is involved in the Battle To Total Slaughter rap battle television show, he's got new records coming up with his 'House mates and a solo project somewhere in the distance as well. For Nickel Nine, the hustle don't stop. —Dan Rys

royce da 5'9" total slaughter

XXL: You've been busy lately.
Royce Da 5'9": I've been tryna be, man. Me being busy works out way better for me than the latter, man.

You guys just did Total Slaughter. How did that whole thing come together?
Well Total Slaughter, man. It morphed into what it is now so fast. It started out as just an idea; we were all overseas, I think we were opening up for some Em shows, some festival shows or something. But we were just all on the bus just brainstorming, and once we got back to New York it kinda just took shape. And it was something originally that was supposed to live online. 'Cause we all fans of the sport.

So aside from wanting to be a part of it somehow and wanting to do our part to help out, we kind of want to see these guys on that pedestal. We want to figure out how to provide the platform for these guys to stand on so the rest of the world can see what we see, some fan-first type of shit. It was supposed to live online, and then as we started moving with it it just gradually started getting bigger, and once the network TV got involved, that was pretty much it. It was a wrap from there. So it formed into what it is now, and now you got all these other leagues and big networks trying to chime in on it, and that's great. It's exactly what we wanted.

I feel like battle rap comes in waves; people will talk about it, then it will disappear, but it always comes back.
That's what people do; I call that casual fans. The casual fans will get it when it's raw, they take it and they wanna see it big. When they don't see it turn the corner they walk away from it, because they feel like it's not cool to follow it. But it'll always be there. It will never go away because it's always relative; it matters. It's the foundation.

royce da 5'9" shady records

It's the 15th anniversary of Shady Records, and you've had a long association with the label. What can you tell me about the Shady XV project?
I don't know much about it. The way that they roll things out over there they kind of keep everything kinda tight lipped. They're a lot like Apple over there. I know that there's a piece of work that they're putting out, they're calling it a compilation, and there's gonna be music that was released before to commemorate that first release, and then there's gonna be new music. That's all I know.

Paul Rosenberg told me the other day that there's gonna be new Bad Meets Evil material as well as new Slaughterhouse material. Have you been working with Em recently?
Yes, I have been working with Em. There's gonna be a wide mixture; I think everything is supposed to tie in to exactly what the label embodies, which is Slaughterhouse, Yelawolf, Bad Meets Evil, D12, and I think that's it.

royce da 5'9" phryme dj premier

What can you tell me about the PRhyme project with DJ Premier?
[Premier] had this drive just full of all Adrian Younge's catalog. So it was like, I had the music in my possession, he had the music in his possession, and we were both... I would be listening to this shit in Detroit and he would be listening to it in New York.

I'm not gonna lie; I came late to the Adrian Younge party. I pulled up to the Adrian Younge party—and this goes back to what we were just talkin' about with the battle rap shit—I showed up to the Adrian Younge party when the Jay Z album [Magna Carta... Holy Grail] came out. Guilty. Guilty, you know what I'm sayin'? But, once I heard the hype on him, and I heard the "Picasso" song and I heard the "Heaven" song on the Magna Carta album, I was like, "Who the fuck?" And then I listened to the Something About April album, right? So I'm like, this dude is fuckin' crazy. So when I found out he scored and edited the Black Dynamite movie—which is one of my favorite movies of all time—that movie is so underrated, bro. When I put all of that stuff together, I was just like, yo, it was meant for me to work with this guy. So it made me more excited about it.

So it was just a real organic process?
Yo, there's never been anything more organic in my career besides Slaughterhouse and Bad Meets Evil. It's kinda like, Bad Meets Evil started from a song, me and Em were just close friends, it made sense. Slaughterhouse house was some wild... Me and Joe was beefin', we decided we was gonna work. But then he called me the day that my daughter was born, I'm sittin' in the hospital, I ran to the studio to do the verse for him, and then the fans just kinda made us a group. It feels the exact same way. That's how I know it's right.

Outside of all of this, what else do you have going on?
I mean yo, man, all of these groups are still moving, you know. It's just the same with everything. And then I've got my album that I've been doing in spurts. I was actually working on my album before I started working on the PRhyme thing. So I still got a great body of work with that; at some point I want to release my own solo album that's not in a group. At some point I wanna do that. [Laughs] You know what I'm saying? That's coming down the pipeline somewhere. But my heart—the Total Slaughter show is always gonna have a piece of my heart, I'm always gonna diligently do that. I'm still gonna show up to as many battles as I can. I'm just gonna be as active as I can be.

Going back to battle rap. What goes through your mind when you're battling?
I mean, it depends. When I was a kid—when I was 18, 19 years old—not really nothin'. Not really nothin'. It's just like fighting with me. And I can only speak for myself, I can't tell you what's going on in the minds of some of these other guys out here. But with me, you know, it was just like fighting. I've always been a competitive, full contact kind of guy. And I never really cared about losing. Wouldn't have been a big deal to me to lose, and I think that's why I won so much, because that's what makes you dangerous. Mentally, you can't be broken, 'cause there's nothing there to break. There's nothing at stake. You're just fighting. You're runnin' into danger, basically, because once you start caring about a bunch of stuff, that's when your brain starts to work against you. So with me, nothing really was going through my mind, I would just be in there and having fun with it.