MVRemix: How have you been able to maintain and focus through all the delays, setbacks, etc. throughout your career?
Royce 5'9: You know what? I just keep my mind off them and keep my mind on just doing the music. Nobody said it was gonna be easy, I knew all the hassles I'd have to go through. I just stayed focused on the music and didn't even worry about the obstacles because I knew it wasn't gonna be easy.
MVRemix: Have you found out the hard way that Q-Tips rule number 4080 "record companies are shady" to be true.
Royce 5'9: Have I found out the hard way? Not necessarily the hard way, I mean, I've found out...There's nothing that a record company has done to me that I'll put past 'em. I went into it thinking that they were actually shadier than they were, but it's a business. You've got this big company; they give you all this money. They give you it to do music and if you can't come up with a hit record or what they think is a hit record, then of course they're not gonna put it out. It's their investment. It's kind of shady to me that when you don't come with what they think you're supposed to come with, or if they mess up your record - say they go late with your video. Or, they take it to radio late because nobody there has the ear. That's not even shady, that's just people not knowing what they're doing. Dealing with a label's gonna be a headache. No matter where you go.
MVRemix: Are you tired of the Eminem comparisons?
Royce 5'9: Am I tired of them? Nah, I wouldn't say I'm tired of the comparisons. I mean, we can get compared all day. I admire being compared to him, because I think he's one of the illest. That's actually a compliment.
MVRemix: Do you feel though, you take a background shadow to him within those comparisions? For example "Is Royce as good"? Do you feel it's fairly equal or what?
Royce 5'9: I hear opinions going either way. I hear on the internet, there's a lot of people that feel like I'm better, there's a lot of people that feel like he's better. A lot of people that feel like we the same. Nah, my personal feeling is that I learned a lot from him. I feel like off of what he accomplished and the way he's doing things right now, is definitely something I'm trying to catch up to. I don't think I'm far from it, but I wouldn't say that I'm better than him.
MVRemix: Is there any material planned for the two of you to appear on together anytime soon, or anything soon to emerge that's unreleased?
Royce 5'9: Nah, we don't got no plans. We don't even talk like that.
MVRemix: What really happened between you and Dr. Dre? I know you "Ghostwrote" for a bit, and there were a couple of White Label's that emerged, what went on?
Royce 5'9: I wrote some songs for Dre, that was a big extent of what we did as far as musically. We never pressed up White Label's, if there were White Label's
MVRemix: Yeah, there were a couple, I think one may have been "The Throne Is Mine"...
Royce 5'9: Those songs were just songs that got leaked. Somebody else pressed them up, we didn't know about them. As far as legally what we did, I wrote some songs for him and one of them made the album. It was called "The Message" featuring Mary J. Blige.
MVRemix: Why did your crew change their name from Wallstreet to D-Elite?
Royce 5'9: Because there was another crew that got the name patented before us. So we just switched the name.
MVRemix: What are the differences between 'Rock City' - the European version and version 2.0, set to drop soon?
Royce 5'9: The difference is, we took a few of the songs off and replaced them with older, more rugged songs that got me my street buzz. Like the original version of "Boom." "Soldier Story," "Take His Life" - all the vinyl that I put out back then. We took out some of the more commercial songs, some of the songs that we were just tired of to give it a different feel, send it in kind of a different direction.
MVRemix: I'm pleased you resorted back to the original "Boom" for the US version of the LP...why though?
Royce 5'9: I always preferred the original version, personally. The reason why we changed the hook, was because Columbia wanted a different hook, because for one, it had already come out on vinyl through Game records. We sent it to radio, radio played it, it did what it did. Once I signed my deal with Columbia, they wanted to re-issue it and put it on the "Carmen Jones" soundtrack. When we sent it out to radio, radio said "We played this record already, give us something else." So somebody at Columbia had the bright idea to just change the hook. Still give them "Boom," so me and Primo, we didn't agree with it. But we did it anyway. It came out sounding like "Whatever" - some people liked it, some people didn't. Some people liked the newer version; some people liked the older version. Me, myself, I particularly liked the first version. I don't like fixing things that are not broken.
MVRemix: Do you have any plans as to what will happen when you're following up this album and what will you do differently next time?
Royce 5'9: I've got like twenty songs done now for the next album, after that. We're working real hard to just keep it under wraps. Not let nobody hear 'em, not let 'em get leaked out. Everybody's going to see the progression in the new material as it compares to the old material. It's just gonna be crazy. I'm really excited about it, me and everybody around me, we're real excited about it. We think it's gonna change the game.
MVRemix: Is there anything you can tell me about those tracks? I mean producers or guests or whatnot?
Royce 5'9: The only thing I can tell you is we're not doing it nothing like we did the "Rock City" album. We're not eating up a lot of money by doing these songs, we're working with new, hungry producers. We're not working with big names. We're really just going for that underground feel that got me where I am. I feel like I strayed away from that just a little bit. So we're just gonna try and balance it out, do more underground records. The records that I feel most comfortable doing.
MVRemix: Have you had a chance to try Grand Theft Auto: Vice City? And were you a fan of Grand Theft Auto 3?
Royce 5'9: Yeah, I was definitely a fan of the last one. I didn't get the chance to play the new one yet. It had come out on the 29th? In Detroit, I don't know about other markets. But, in Detroit...those kids camp out in front of the stores and they get them all before I can get to the store. I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but I'm looking forward to it, I know it's gonna be crazy.
MVRemix: In your opinion, is a freestyle, a freestyle...if it's written?
Royce 5'9: It depends on how it's done. I think that the way that emcees are now, a lot of the things that they say are written. Or, if it's not written, they're pre-conceived thoughts. They thought of it last week, and just keep it in their arsenal waiting to say it. You can always tell when it's coming because the line before the punch line is always something off the top of the head. But, the punch line is always something that they had already. I would say, yeah, it's a freestyle. As long as they don't just write it down from top to bottom.
MVRemix: Because Hip Hop is now such a huge industry as well as a culture and musical genre. Do you think its size has helped or hindered the quality of its content?
Royce 5'9: I think it helps the quality, the bigger that it gets because it's becomes more diverse. The more sounds that people bring to the table, like...Nelly just recently brought a new sound to the table when everybody thought there was no other direction that rap could go. Which exploded! Now you've got people that rhyme like Nelly, so now that's like a whole 'nother classification of Hip Hop. I think it helps the quality because it's real lucrative. What he's doing is selling more than almost anybody. I think it helps. As far as the quality though, as far as what people want to hear. That all varies like people's opinions. You might not like that Nelly sound, somebody else might like it. Somebody else might say "Yeah, it helps." A lot might say it don't. Personally, I think it helps the quality.
MVRemix: Do you think that in some ways though, for example, if Nelly talks about the stereotypical commercial stuff - money etc. Do you think that hinders the creativity of an underground cat who starts to think "Well, if I talk about that, all of a sudden I'm gonna blow up" Then you no longer get the deep, integrity fueled tracks but you only get the more commercial things emerging...
Royce 5'9: No, I don't think so, because I don't think that everybody listens to Hip Hop for the content or what people are talking about. I don't think people listen to Nelly because of what he's saying. I think they listen to him because of his style. I think they listen to him because of the "Ungh" "Ungh, ungh, ungh" which he repeats. A lot of people can't even understand what Nelly is saying. They like it because his style is dope. Then you've got people who listen because they want to hear the deep stuff, and it goes back to my original point. That's the beauty of Hip Hop, you can get whatever you like to get. It just varies from artist to artist. If you're the type of person who feels it's all about what you're talking about then Hip Hop should just be you talking about something specific or something positive just like that. You've got a few artists that do that. Their job and their label's job is to find those fans who like that.
MVRemix: It seemed that over the past few years, things have fluctuated with regards to how strong beef's have been in Hip Hop. I mean there have been murders and whatnot, but after the Biggie/Tupac stuff, things pretty much died down. Over the past year, we've had the Jay-Z/Nas beef, Ja Rule/DMX...Snoop/Suge, all of those happening. Then, a couple of days ago, we got the bullshit that happened with Jam Master Jay. What are your thoughts on what's going on?
I think the killing is stupid. I think the killing is stupid. It's nowhere near worth it, this is not what music is about. It's only rap, it's not going on in any other genre. As far as people battling, that can be entertaining as long as it's not taken too far. I think the Nas and Jay-Z thing...I definitely went out and listened to both their albums just to see what they had to say about each other. It was entertaining to me. Just like the Pac and Biggie thing was entertaining to me. But once the killing started, it turned everybody off. Once people start getting killed, it's like "Ah man, now you've taken it too far." I think it's stupid when it's taken too far. But, I think as long as people can keep that balance and stay peaceful, just say rhymes about each other, which people do at open mics and battles all the time. I think it's cool. The essence of Hip Hop. When it's taken to the streets I think it's too far.
What was or is your reaction with what happened to Jam Master Jay a couple of days ago?
Royce 5'9: Everybody else's reaction. It's another blow to Hip Hop. Another lesson for everybody to learn. People still don't get it. They're doing all the specials on TV on all the channels covering it and it's just becoming redundant - it's making us look stupid. There's somebody in their corporate office right now, laying back and laughing at all of us. "They started this genre of music and now its gotten so big to the point where it's not going nowhere now when we thought it was going somewhere and now they're killing each other."
MVRemix: What do we have to look forward to from you aside from evidently, the album? (Collaborations, guest spots etc.)
Royce 5'9: No guest spots in the immediate future. Right now, my crew, D-Elite...we're all just focused on my album. Basically getting my foot through the door. I think they all appreciate my loyalty to them, they know what's in my future. My plan involves, whatever be the progression of my family, whether it be Cha Cha album, a D-Elite album, my album, whatever. We just gonna start doing it once my foot is in the door. I'm not going outside my camp for nothin'. Just gonna focus on my people.
MVRemix: Do you have any last comments you'd like to put to your fans/potential fans that are going to read this?
Royce 5'9: Please buy the album, it's called "Rock City v2.0." It's through Koch/Game Records, November 26th. It's a different version from the overseas one. It's definitely worth coppin' to get that different feel.
Lâ€™Orange and Stik Figa â€“ The City Under The City album review
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MVRemix Urban | Online Hip Hop Magazine | US and
Canadian Underground Hip Hop - exclusive interviews, reviews, articles
MVRemix Urban | Online Hip Hop Magazine | US and Canadian Underground Hip Hop - exclusive interviews, reviews, articles