V Exclusive: Royce Da 5’9″ On Working w/ Eminem For Bad Meets Evil’s ‘Hell: The Sequel’

With the recent release of Bad Meets Evil’s Hell: The Sequel, the much talked about EP featuring hip-hop icon Eminem and respected underground spitter Royce Da 5’9” has been more than a decade in the making. But for the longtime friends and Detroit natives—who first combined their soaring lyrical gifts and sneering penchant for eyebrow-raising barbs in the late ‘90s on “Nuttin’ to Do / Scary Movies” and “Fast Lane”—the release was highly unlikely just a few years ago.

Following an altercation between Royce and members of Em’s D12 rhyme collective, the pair had a public falling-out. Diss records were exchanged; relationships were frayed. After the tragic 2008 tragic shooting death of fellow friend and D12 member Proof, Royce, Em and his D12 cohorts pushed aside their beef. Yet Ironically, it was the signing of the hip-hop super group Slaughterhouse (made up of Royce, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I) to Eminem’s Shady Records that led the way for a Bad Meets Evil reunion. Now Royce Da 5’9” offers his personal account on how Bad Meets Evil came together against all odds; how his self-destructive behavior almost destroyed his career; and why his upcoming album is his best work yet.—Keith Murphy

Royce: How did the Bad Meets Evil project come together? We just started recording songs a while ago with no real intent in mind. We didn’t come to the table and say, “Yo, we are going to do a project.” It started with a song that I had that I wanted to use for my album. I came to Em with it, and we had so much fun recording it. We never thought it was going to be for a big project.  Mr. Porter would bring a beat on the plane and we would hear it, and jump on it. And that was it. 

But Em and I looked up I don’t know how many months later, and we had all of these great songs. We didn’t know what we were going to do with them. But like I said, making an album was never the plan, but certain conversations started to be had and we decided to put out Hell: The Sequel as an EP. Ironically, there has always been talk of me and Em making a project together. But for it to come out [almost over a decade later] has been a great surprise for us and the fans.

Being a part of Slaughterhouse led to the Bad Meets Evil project. It opened the door for me and Em to get together. Em is the one that signed Slaughterhouse and he knew I was a part of the group. But being a part of Slaughterhouse has also helped me individually. It turned me on to a lot of different fanbases from three other different individuals that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. We got together and it pushed me lyrically. That’s part of the reason I’ve been able to stay relevant in the [music industry]…I keep my ear to the streets.

I’ve learned a lot from my past mistakes. A lot of my issues were caused outside of the booth because of my attitude. I’ve been able to work on myself as a man. It’s no longer about whether or not I can rap or how talented I am. It’s no longer about me thinking I’m better than other [artists]. I’m just trying to keep the mistakes down to a minimum. I’ve mended certain relationships; my relationship with Em and others. I’m just doing things organically.

If I could go back and talk to Royce of 2003 as an older, wiser person, I don’t know what I would say. Yes, I made a lot of mistakes. But I needed to make them in order to learn. There were a lot of people who were telling me things back then that I didn’t listen to. I’m an alpha male, so I had to learn how to make my [stumbles] on my own. I’m still going to make some mistakes, but the one good quality that I have today is I know now not to make the same mistakes.

Right now, I’m just finishing up my solo album. It’s called Success Is Certain. It’s a spin-off of a project that I had out called Death Is Certain, which was a dark period in my life where I was stuck in this time frame where all I was rapping about was all the negative stuff that I was going through. I spoke a lot on my failures and people turning their back on me. Now I am in a good place. Hearing all the positive [feedback] for Hell: The Sequel from all the Bad Meets Evil fans has been great. I feel like I’m in the better and more positive position in my career today than I was in the past.—As Told To K.M.