Guess who’s back! Detroit MC Obie Trice, one of the realest dudes to pick up a mic, is blessing us with a new album, entitled Bottoms Up, after a nearly six-year hiatus. The rapper has been through a lot in the past couple of years, from leaving Shady Records in 2008 to watching his hometown of Detroit slowly crumble, and even losing his mother to breast cancer this past July. Recently, Obie channels all of that in a newly released single “Battle Cry”, available now on iTunes. So how has Obie Trice―real name, no gimmicks―been keeping busy? Peep what he has in-store for us for the years to come, from building his record label’s credibility to even jumping into the fashion world. —Keenan Higgins
VIBE: Ok, I don’t know how much time we got, so I’ll just jump right into it. With the exception of your compilation album that was released back in ’09, it’s been like 5 years since your last studio album. What was the delay with that? Was it personal, so you could release something that didn’t sound rushed, or was it completely out of your control?
Obie Trice: It was more so personal. [There were] A lot of personal things that were going forth in my life with family, financial—it just took a minute for me to get back to the music like I wanted to. I was always recording, but I really wasn’t looking forward to releasing anything. That was more of the situation.
Cool. I know you launched Black Market Entertainment earlier this year, right?
Actually, I launched that label last year in May.
What’s that process been like with running your own label?
Well I have a staff of people that actually help me with the label. It’s basically me being the forefront of it and approving music on my album. We also want to do talent searches here in Detroit and across the Midwest if we can to try and find up and coming talent. Then, they can push the label Black Market Entertainment as well. I respect them, you know. Mainly I’m the focus for the actual company right now.
So there’s no roster right now?
I am working with a group of guys called No Speakers & this young cat named Patience. They’ve been on tours with me so far. I’m supposed to go to Australia in January, so I’m gonna talk them and let them showcase their thing too.
Now getting more personal, I know you’ve talked about the negativity in Detroit—specifically amongst the men in the community. Have you seen a change in that for the better or is it still the same since you talked about it last time?
Yeah, it’s basically the same. We had 16 shot and 7 dead in 24 hours. In the beginning of October they cutting off Welfare. It’s definitely gonna get uglier than it has been. People depend on that, and they can’t depend on that anymore. Working and getting jobs sometimes isn’t for everybody. There are people with 8 or 9 kids and an education level of a 7th grader. It’s real hard out here and I think it’s gonna get worse.
That’s crazy man. It’s like, what can we do for that?
Right. What can we do? That’s the question. People are going against them cutting that off, but it’s nothing that can change that. I think that’s something that was just passed. It really don’t make sense to me, but I hope the city can turnaround from that. That has a lot to do with the song “Battle Cry” that I have out now on iTunes. It’s like, whatever you’re going through you just got to keep it moving. This life is hard. It takes strong people to adapt to it and at least be ok to live a decent life for the rest of their lives.
Yeah I feel you. Speaking on that “Battle Cry” song with Adrian Rezza, he’s relatively new and really not well known. It seems like, even with opening up your own label, that you have this passion for putting people on. Where does that come from?
I don’t know. I like to work with people that haven’t been exposed to the industry just yet. I ran into The Rezza Brothers, Adrian and Lucas, on Myspace. I really don’t go on Myspace like I used to, but I was browsing a few years back and I heard their music. I thought they were dope. I contacted them and they was excited to work with me. They were familiar with my work, so we kind of just clicked. Out of several songs that we did together, that’s where “Battle Cry” came from.
I recently heard your remix to “New Day.” That shit was dope. Everybody seems to have an opinion about Watch The Throne, whether positive or negative. What’s your take on it?
Thanks fam for that compliment. As far as Watch The Throne, it had to grow on me. Actually, I was going to Chicago when it came out. I copped it and heard the Otis joint on the radio, and I really wasn’t feelin it. But then, on that ride back from Chicago, I gave it a listen and man—it’s a great album to me now. I really dig The Throne. I’m tryna do this mixtape that we’re doing right now. It’s called Watch The Chrone, and we’re using those beats from that album. Well, the ones that are available. I just put out one yesterday. It’s called “Hood Is Wild”, from the lead off joint off the Throne “No Church In The Wild.”
Ah! That should be dope. I’ll definitely check that out. What do you feel like this album’s gonna be like this time around, now that you don’t have Shady Records backing you and financially supporting you? You’re kinda doing it on your own this time.
Well, I hope it does great numbers. We got some real important people on board working on the project. Interscope does spend more money on their artists, so it definitely might be a difference. As far as sale-wise, a lot of people interested in getting the album might not know its out. That’s the only situation that may be an issue, from a promotion and marketing aspect. Hopefully radio adds the record “Battle Cry.” We shot the video for it Labor Day weekend. I’m just hoping that the look of the video on the music channels and the promotion of the album that we’re doing ourselves get’s us OK numbers. January 17th.
So it comes out the 17th of January then?
I was meaning to ask you that because I know you tweeted that it was coming out this October, but a lot of media outlets said it got pushed back to early 2012. Thanks for clarifying that for me.
No problem. We were supposed to come out with it on October 25th, but I thought it would be too early with me just releasing “Battle Cry.” We wanted that to work out a little bit longer before we released the actual album.
How complete is Bottoms Up?
It’s ready to go actually. We’re just doing the last mixes now on it, then it’s gonna get shipped out.
Nice. There’s been a lot of name’s being thrown around as far as collaborations. I’ve heard Eminem and a possible D12 reunion, Dr. Dre production, and I even heard Nicki Minaj at some point. Are any of those names on point or is it too early to confirm?
Eminem is definitely on the record, Dre is definitely on the record production-wise, and that’s about it. I got MC Breed on the album, R.I.P. to my man Breed. But for the most part it’s just me and the Rezza Brothers.
Now to wrap things up, what’s the biggest message you want to deliver with this album? What do you want them to take from it?
Good music, man. Appreciation of good music. Look for more Obie Trice in the future after I finish releasing this album. I plan on dropping another one and coming strong to put my label BME to the forefront. Just look for different things from me in the future. I’ll have my artists, my company, my music—all types of things. Even fashion. We want to do it all.