Royce 5'9 conducted by Bill "Low-Key" Heinzelman  

Royce 5'9


On February 24th, Royce is prepared to drop his sophomore album "Death Is Certain" which showcases the return of Royce to his underground roots. The album is one of the most honest efforts released by an emcee in a long time, as Royce pours his heart and soul into every magnificent track. It is this brutally honest attitude that has kept Royce afloat after years of setbacks and delays. In the interview below Royce addresses such setbacks as well as his new album and the process he went through to make it.

MVRemix: You have the album "Death Is Certain" dropping February 24th, so what do you want to accomplish with this album and what do you want fans to take out of it?

Royce 5'9: I just want them to get a true idea of who Royce is. It's a real personal album, its kind of the opposite of the "Rock City" album. Everything I was feeling at the time and I just want them to get that point that I was trying to get across. It's not even for the money or power, or anything like that, it's just for the respect.

MVRemix: What do you want to accomplish with the album?

Royce 5'9: I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish with it personally. I am totally comfortable with it, front to back, song to song, that's all I care about. I am not even really tripping off of sales. I have put myself in a situation where I am not really super worried about sales.

MVRemix: Just take us through your mindset as you were making this album and how that was different from when you were making "Rock City".

Royce 5'9: When I was doing "Rock City" I was a lot happier. I was a lot happier doing that album, I was partying and shit. With this one I wasn't doing none of that, I wasn't really happy with things going on. I had a lot of situations going on. I was real serious, so the album came out real serious.

MVRemix: I definitely have to say I'm loving the album, so I gotta congratulate you on making a great album. But the one thing I liked about the album was how it kept a similar vibe and mood the whole time. Some are calling it dark, but it definitely follows one vibe. Now was that your intention or something that just happened along the recording process?

Royce 5'9: My intention was definitely every time I went into the studio to just write what I was feeling at that exact moment. And I did it all close together, so the songs sound similar and tie in with each other real well because I did them all around the same time. I did them in like a two week period. I guess it was kind of on purpose, it wasn't really my aim, but every song was done dark like that on purpose because it was the most natural thing for me to do at that time.

MVRemix: Now the majority of the album is produced by Carlos Broady, so tell us what attracted you to him and what he brings to the table that is different from all the other producers you worked with?

Royce 5'9: Los was one of the first people that I met in the industry period. He was just real from the jump and we had the chemistry from the jump. Even when I was signed to Tommy Boy, I did like four records with Los and it was just tight. When I did the "Death Is Certain" album we were both feeling the same way. He had an outlook on the industry that was similar to mine. We felt like it was missing something, and there was a void that needed to be filled. It seemed like everybody that came out was concerned with what people had to say and what kind of records people thought they should be doing. Me and Los were like, we just gonna go in here and not be concerned with radio or nothing. That's why he did so many tracks on the album. He wasn't breathing down my necking or nothing, we pretty much agreed on everything and clicked so easily.

MVRemix: Who would you say is the most talented producer you have worked with?

Royce 5'9: Probably Pharrell because he does everything across the board. He writes, he comes up with song directions, he plays instruments. I think he is the most talented if you are going to nitpick little things that people can do, he can do the most.

MVRemix: I think you and Alchemist make a good combination that always works out well. Are you guys gonna hook up again in the future?

Royce 5'9: It's possible, I haven't really spoken to him. I don't really know Alchemist that well. We did a couple tracks, so it's always possible, the door is always open for something like that.

MVRemix: On "Something Is Wrong With Him" you spit a couple of lines that go something like "my wife don't like my album, she says it's too darkshe would rather listen to Joe Buddens, no disrespect". Now when Joe Buddens hears that what do you think his response will be, because you know a lot of people are gonna wanna blow that line out of proportion.

Royce 5'9: Well, that's the reason I said no disrespect, because I wasn't trying to disrespect nobody with it. But one of the things I was trying to do with this album was; I wanted people to know that I am being painfully honest. That's something that actually happened, that shit is real talk. It's something that really happened. I purposely put no disrespect in there so he wouldn't think I was trying to take a shot at him. But that's actually how it was, she would rather listen to party songs. She wasn't really listening to my album because she was like "your album is too dark for me". And at that time I was having conference calls with Kino, my manager, and he was telling me the album is too dark, try and do some brighter records. So I went in and did it darker. That's just how I felt.

MVRemix: "Today" is probably one of the most brutally honest songs I have heard in a long time. Was there any doubt in your mind as whether you should put out a song like this?

Royce 5'9: Nah, I didn't have no doubts when I was doing this. See you gotta understand that I did this album with no regards for what anybody had to say, period. I just didn't care and I still don't care. If people take offense to anything that I am saying on the album then they should look in the mirror and try and decide if its something they like looking at. I am just saying real talk. I even point out my flaws, so nobody can really get mad at me.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite track on the album?

Royce 5'9: Right now it's probably "What's Beef", but its because of technical reasons. I like every thing for different reasons, but if I had to point a favorite one out it would be "What's Beef" because of the way the skit connects to the next song and everything.

MVRemix: I love "Hip Hop", it's probably my favorite track this year. So how did the whole concept come about.

Royce 5'9: You know what, it's not even something I had pre-planned. Primo actually called me on the phone and played me the beat over the phone. And I was like, "yo send me that right now". He sent it and the beat just talked to me and told me to say that. I really felt like tapping into Primo's market. I wrote that record for Primo, that record was my thank you to him for just holding me down on every album.

MVRemix: And the video for "Hip Hop", how did that come about? And was that what you envisioned for the song?

Royce 5'9: We hooked up with these cats from Vancouver and they came up with the whole "Beautiful Mind" concept. From there we just took it and we went to Vancouver and shot it up. I just wanted to do something dark, I didn't want to do anything that looked like everything else on T.V. right now. I got a lot of criticism from it at first, but I knew it was gonna work. I knew it was gonna work because people respect it when you do things to please yourself first. I just wanted to bring about the whole essence of Hip Hop for the video.

MVRemix: So you got criticism for the video?

Royce 5'9: Yeah from a few people. People were saying it all took place in one room and stuff like that, ya know what I'm saying. I thought that's what was hot about it, because it all took place in one room. It's so real because that's all I do is write rhymes. The only reason I am out of the house right now is because I am on tour. All I do is stay in the studio and write rhymes and that is what I was basically trying to bring across for the video.

MVRemix: Because the video was shot in Vancouver, was that the reason why Primo wasn't in it?

Royce 5'9: Yeah, Primo was on tour, he was overseas.

MVRemix: Ok, in your opinion which is the better track, "Boom" or "Hip Hop"?

Royce 5'9: Man, that's a hard one!

MVRemix: Ha-ha, yeah I know, its almost impossible.

Royce 5'9: "Boom" is more lyrical, but "Hip Hop" is more creative. I wasn't aiming for the same outcome with "Hip Hop" as I was for "Boom". "Boom" was line for line with me. When I was writing that record I was concentrating line for line. With "Hip Hop" it was more of a feel. I wanted to give people a nostalgic feel. I love both records for different reasons but I like "Hip Hop" better. But I do think "Boom" is a classic record.

MVRemix: I think they are both classics. But keeping with "Hip Hop", on that track you say "you will not get the chance like Choppa, Ness & Dylon, to dis-respect who you don't listen to". Do you want to elaborate on exactly what you meant for those that are not familiar with Da Band.

Royce 5'9: There is a group on MTV called Da Band, and basically they were stars before their album came out. I am saying in Hip Hop, normally you will no get the chance for something like that. You know all the stuff they were saying behind Diddy's back and behind everyone's back on who they weren't listening to. Basically, I was saying you are not gonna get that opportunity. They were lucky, but you aint gonna get the same opportunity. It wasn't no shot at them, I was just using them as an example because they are something popular everyone can relate to. And it's all part of Hip Hop at the same time.

MVRemix: Is Royce mad at the game of Hip Hop or is that just a misconception?

Royce 5'9: Nah, that's definitely a misconception. I am not mad at the game, I am mad at certain things. Really, I'm not mad at nuttin in the game. There is certain people who choose to have certain views that just be how they wanna be. I ain't even mad at them, I am just willing to stand on my own. I like to have my independence. I am not impressed with nothing in the game, but I am not mad at it.

MVRemix: So what artists are you feeling or impressed by at the moment?

Royce 5'9: I'm impressed by Jay-z.

MVRemix: On "I & Me" you state "Mistakes I have made, I have learned to regret". What are those mistakes?

Royce 5'9: Well everything that I have learned in the industry really. I never had nobody to actually teach me what the do's and don'ts are. So everything I have learned in the game up to this point is because of mistakes. I have learned from all of my mistakes, from how to deal with labels and everything. That's why I say "I have learned more from my mistakes than any grade in my school".

MVRemix: Tell us about D-Elite and what you see in them as artists?

Royce 5'9: D-Elite I think are already on different levels in the game. Jah, Cut Throat, Tre Little, Billy Nix and myself. Like I said, I think they are already on different levels. But what I don't want to do is have their success depend on mine. That's why I just didn't throw them on one song on the album. For this time I didn't want to do that, I didn't think it was fair for them. I kind of want them to gain their buzz the same way that I did. That's why we are hitting mixtapes and stuff as hard as we can hit them on the level that we are. So they can start to develop their own individual fan bases, because they all got different styles. And let them come up organically like that as opposed to, yo if Royce decides he's gonna quite then there is no more D-Elite. I want them to already have a following and do shows by themselves and everything. Then I wanna come together and do a crew album.

MVRemix: What about solo albums?

Royce 5'9: I would prefer for all of them to do solo joints first, but that's not in the immediate future. We got to do lots of mixtapes to build their buzz up.

MVRemix: Now with "Death Is Certain" ready to drop, do you feel you are in the position you want to be in?

Royce 5'9: Yeah, I am in a good position right now. You are never in the position you want to be in, because every time you achieve something you want more. I just think this situation is a good stepping stone for me to go into a better situation. I just feel blessed that Koch was willing to step up and put the album out, as opposed to me just sitting on Sony, trying to figure out where I am gonna go. It just created a situation for me to learn a little bit more and step up to the plate to do something even bigger and then to do something even bigger than that. And just to keep moving until I decide I cant do it no more.

MVRemix: What is the long term goal for Royce?

Royce 5'9: Just to be super successful and to make sure that everybody around me is super successful. That I can feed my family and be comfortable, not worry about money and stuff like that. That is all its really about at this point.

MVRemix: Anything the fans should know about that's going to happen in the immediate future, such as tours, appearances, etc?

Royce 5'9: Right now, after we come off of this tour we are gonna start tracking the numbers and see what we are doing. We are gonna try and do as much touring as possible. And in between the touring I am going to do as much recording as possible. So I am going to be busy doing shows and recording , cause I am never gonna stop recording.

MVRemix: Any last words?

Royce 5'9: Just February 24th, go get the album, do yourself a favor.

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