Monday, July 07, 2014

Royce Da 5'9 "Next" (Vibe, September 2001)


"In a smoky Detroit club, Wu-Tang's Cappadonna performs with a crew of about 15 hype men. But in the audience, Royce Da 5'9" is holding his own court, surrounded by friends downing Bacardi Limon shots and talking shit. Minutes later, a fight erupts out front, and one of Royce's boys tries to knock the chin off a rival crew member. Looking over his merry men, Royce remarks, "Loyalty is my downfall," and reluctantly moves towards the fray. Fortunately, the scuffle ebbs, and Royce leaves for his car, relieved. Ryan "Royce" Montgomery is not a thug. He was raised in the middle-class Detroit suburb of Oak Park, in a two-parent home at that. Although the 24-year old gave into violence and petty thuggery as a teen, most of that ceased when he had his own son, Royce, three years ago. As an amateur MC battling at open mikes in 1998, Royce decided to take rapping seriously in  order to support his new family. "It was like, I really gotta do this shit now," he says, "I can't just stop and decide I want to go to college or something." Peep "Rock City," cont'd below...


"Royce hooked up with a producer and recorded "a zillion songs" that, he says, only got "doors slammed in our faces." His smart, pugilistic flow was getting him nowhere fast, until the fateful night of both his son's birth and his grandmother's death, when an emotionally confused Royce performed at a show where he met a then-obscure Eminem. The two quickly became "like brothers," Royce says. A week later, they recorded the sinister tag-team "Bad Meets Evil," which ended up on Eminem's The Slim Shady LP. As Eminem's star rose, he pulled Royce up with him, even taking him on tour as a hype man. Royce soon signed with indie rap label Game Recordings, which led to a deal with Columbia. His action-packed debut Rock City (with production from DJ Premier and the Neptunes) will feature - who else? - Slim Shady. "I'll do anything for Slim, 'cause he did so much for me," Royce says. Loyalty might not have been worth much at the club, but so far, it's Royce's lucky charm in the music industry." - Vibe 9/01 // Updated, added one of my favorite underground cuts...