Royce Da 5’9”: Against All Odds

After garnering critical acclaim as an amateur, Royce Da 5’9” was the favorite to win Rookie Of The Year honors once his debut album officially dropped. Rock City was supposed to catapult him to the ranks of hip-hop’s elite. But it didn’t. Fans couldn’t keep their hands off the unreleased album, like Kobe Bryant couldn’t […]

After garnering critical

acclaim as an amateur, Royce Da 5’9” was the favorite to win Rookie

Of The Year honors once his debut album officially dropped. Rock City was

supposed to catapult him to the ranks of hip-hop’s elite. But it didn’t.

Fans couldn’t keep their hands off the unreleased album, like Kobe Bryant

couldn’t keep his hands off a certain hotel staffer in Colorado.

Now, after a war

of the words with Eminem and D-12, Royce returns with his sophomore effort,

Death Is Certain. And just like Bryant is trying to revive his squeaky

clean image, the Detroit rapper is trying to revive his underground appeal.

Let’s hope he can shoulder the load better than Kobe.

How do you feel about the word underdog or the tag potential always being attached

to your name?

Royce Da 5’9”:

Well, it comes from being independent from somebody else-You know I had to do

a little growing and I parted ways with some people. The underdog is just like

the next step. Plus, it was so visible how many people were against me for various

reasons, so it was me against the world, really. Me against everybody. Cause

I really wasn’t backing down from anybody. That’s what the underdog


Do you still feel like you need to fulfill your potential? How would you view

yourself in the rap game?

Royce Da 5’9”:

I think theirs always room for improvement, because I’m never satisfied.

Even in the lines where I come across like real arrogant and real confident.

Really, it’s like I’m my own worst critic. I’m always trying

to please and really just humble myself, so theirs always room for improvement

and fulfilling that potential.

So I’ve heard you’re saying you feel like Nas before he dropped “Ether?”

Can you explain that?

Royce Da 5’9”:

[Laughs] I really respect Nas as an artist. And I respect his struggle and what

he went through. He’s standing for his own beliefs and he stood his ground.

I’m sure the phone calls were slow to him, too. That’s what I said

on the song. Cause that’s how I was feeling. I quit carrying the 2-way.

And I quit carrying the phone-just no communication.

How many people approached you about that “Malcolm X” track?

Royce Da 5’9”:

It was a song that just had to happen, man. I didn’t want to do that song.

We refrained from doing the song, but people was just saying so much. Y’all

didn’t really get it here [New York]. But if you was living in Detroit,

then you would’ve have seen how many people decided to get together to

go against me. It was just what the hell I was thinking at that time. That’s

why it came out so angry.

In that situation, there was a group of people against you, and you were by

yourself fighting back. Nas didn’t nearly make as many tracks going at

the Roc as they made against him. Was that on your mind?

Royce Da 5’9”:

I kind of did it like Nas. It looked like he was starting to get picked on.

After “Ether,” it was different; you knew the battle was over. When

I did “Malcolm X,” I didn’t feel like I needed to do anything

else. Cause it was like that ended everything. It’s like “Ether.”

I think like they felt like they got to a pint in their careers where they got

their weight up, and I didn’t. Can you give us an updated status on how your relationship is

with Eminem and Proof, or anybody from D-12?

Royce Da 5’9”:

Well, My relationship with Em, it isn’t really a relationship. I respect

him as an artist. I respect him as a businessman. I want to say we didn’t

see eye to eye, but we never got the chance to talk about it. So really, whenever

someone asks me, I just that it’s not a relationship, because we don’t

speak. As far as Proof, we didn’t see eye to eye on the situation and we

resolved it. And that’s where it stops.

Do you think the relationships can be mended? Or you can work together again?

Royce Da 5’9”:

I think it’s mended. I wouldn’t close the door on working with anybody.

And what about Dr. Dre?

Royce Da 5’9”:

I think there is a mutual respect between us. I’ve never had a problem

with Dre.

On your new album, you have the one song like “Bomb First,” where

your quoting 2Pac, but you also dismiss rappers who ride on ‘Pac’s


Royce Da 5’9”:

It’s wasn’t really dismissing them. I didn’t even have anybody

in particular in mind time. It was just a certain time when rap just felt “‘Pac-ish”

to me. And I felt like people started doing it because it was the “in”

thing to do. It’s one thing to do it out of admiration, and another to

do it just to sell records. I just don’t really agree with it.

Is that what you try to address in your single “Hip-Hop?

Royce Da 5’9”:

I’m a strong believer that Royce 5’9’’ has a real good chemistry

with Primo. And I think that song was what the underground in hip-hop needs.

That type of song, it’s just somebody that doesn’t really care about

radio play or nothing. It’s somebody who’s doing it just for the love

of doing it. That’s pretty much how my whole album is.

It seems you have a lot of underground love, yet the pedigree of your skills

is on par with superstars. You mentioned that you see yourself right behind

rappers like Jay-Z, Em and Nas. What do you think about that balance that you


Royce Da 5’9”:

I really compare myself to those people you that just named, because, number

one, I feel like I’ve already achieved the type of success that you guys

know that I’m not lying. That’s what I do. And that’s what those

artists do. I think I was put in a situation where as an artist I tried to move

too fast. So, really what I’m trying to do with this album is reconnect

with the underground audience who think that I went to fast with it. And just

really not even do it for the money and the power, but the respect.

When I talk to you now, you seem humble and sincere, but you mentioned in your

rhymes that you come off as cocky and arrogant. And you have the one line in

your song where you apologize to your fans for trying to go commercial. Do you

think it’s [the apology] going to connect with you fans?

Royce Da 5’9”:

There’s no such thing as a humble emcee on the mic, you know what I’m

saying? You got to come across that way. When you get on that mic, you gotta

jump into that territory that you want to control. Everything I said on my album

came from the heart. So if people take it the wrong way, I don’t have a

problem with that.

I wanted to ask you about the hip-hop summit in Detroit. Do you think that you

should have had a role in that?

Royce Da 5’9”:

It came at a time where I wasn’t really doing nothing. I had my times in

Detroit where I was that deal. Everybody had they couple months, where everybody

was talking about you. So it just came at a time where I wasn’t really

doing nothing, so I wasn’t really offended by not getting the opportunity.

Do you have any thoughts on the mayor of Detroit? They call him the hip-hop

mayor; he’s the young cat and he got the diamond stud in his ear, and all.

Royce Da 5’9”:

That’s cause he’s young and black. I’m not really a political

person, but it looks like he’s doing his job. I never met, but I never

really hear anybody say anything bad about him.

Another Detroit thing, what do feel about Isiah Thomas’ position with the

Knicks now?

Royce Da 5’9”:

Anything Isaiah do, I stand with. I used to idolize Isiah. I still do, but I

don’t got it like I used to. [Laughs]

At the end of 2004, what do expect to have for you?

Royce Da 5’9”:

I expect to have a lot of respect. I’ve just really grown up since the

Rock City album. The album is crazy. I want to make classic albums. I put the

heart and time into it. Hopefully by the end of the year, when they compare

somebody new to someone, it will be me.