It’s been a proverbial roller coaster ride for veteran Detroit MC Obie Trice. Since the release of his 2003 debut, Cheers, the brazen lyricist has enjoyed platinum success as an acclaimed protégé of global hip-hop superstar Eminem; survived a 2005 gunshot to the head; parted ways with his label home Shady-Interscope and mourned the summer 2011 loss of his beloved mother from cancer. Which is why Trice’s upcoming release Bottom’s Up (due out January 17) exudes such an unabashed personal and at times emotional tone.
Fueled by the hard charging first single “Battle Cry,” it’s a defiant project that not only celebrates the rhymer’s return after a five-year hiatus, but it’s also a sneering middle-finger to a music industry that, according to Trice, left him for dead. Now Trice, who has established his own independent label Black Market Entertainment, is gearing up for a comeback on his own terms.
“There’s a lot of politics in this business,” Obie Trice tells VIBE of his turbulent time away from the mic. “I’ve been away, but you can’t leave your fans lingering for five years. You have to keep going. That’s what Bottom’s Up is all about. Life can put you through some pretty serious things from getting shot to my mother’s death. You are only human, but you have to keep moving no matter what the situation is. I just want to bring my own thing to the table with Bottoms Up whether people like it or not. It doesn’t hurt to try.”
However, Trice, who dropped his last studio effort Second Rounds on Me in 2006, admits that his very public split from his former time label home was partially due to his own immaturity. But one relationship he was able to maintain was with the man who first gave him his first big break in 2000: Eminem. The multi-platinum rap icon is featured on Bottom’s Up and also handled production duties along with another larger-than-life hip-hop figure.
“I got Em and Dr. Dre on the album,” glows Trice. “No matter what went down at Interscope we are all still cool. The industry can be so fake, but [my relationship with those guys] is real. I have Eminem’s back. Em is my real nigga. Em is a real dude.”
Trice says the main reason why his friendship with Slim Shady was able to withstand his negative departure from Interscope stemmed from the pair’s strong family ties. “I didn’t know Eminem prior to me coming into the game,” he recalls. “I wasn’t a friend of his before I got signed, but our relationship grew. My daughter Kobie would play with his daughter Hallie. They would be out there all day long…they had to wear the same thing just to play with each other [laughs]. That’s what it was like.”
Still Trice says he had to learn how to separate business from friendship. “You forget that this is a business because you have genuine love for people. Sometimes you got to shake yourself and say, ‘I’m here to make music, it’s a business…I’m hear to make money…that’s my man, but I have to separate those type of situations.’ But yeah, Em is my guy. We are still making music together.”
It’s Trice’s newfound respect for business 101 that has driven him to make his Black Market imprint into a success. He envisions a label that will give other middle-of-the-map MC’s a chance to follow their dreams. “I feel like I have the product,” Trice says. “I have the talent and the right team. I’m not trying to work for anybody anymore. Black Market is focused on Bottom’s Up and from there we are going to sign artists mainly from the Midwest—Detroit, Chicago and the Cleveland area…everywhere. There’s a plethora of talent out there.”—Keith Murphy (murphdogg29)