Royce signed his first deal in 1998 with Tommy Boy Records, who was to release his much anticipated debut album Rock City. Royce left Tommy Boy Records, citing creative differences. He signed with Game Recordings, an independent label who helped him to negotiate a deal with Columbia Records. Columbia repeatedly delayed the release of Rock City, which was subsequently heavily bootlegged. Despite this, Columbia released Rock City, which quickly went out of print once Royce left the label. After leaving Columbia, Rock City was edited and re-released through Koch / Game Recordings as Rock City (Version 2.0). The album credits Eminem as executive producer, though his vocals were only featured on the title track “Rock City”, both in the chorus and ad libbing. Before the release of Version 2.0, Royce built hype with his successful underground hit “Boom”, produced by DJ Premier.
A helpful boost to his career came when Rockstar Games hired the Game Recordings label on for the rap music radio station “Game FM” in Grand Theft Auto III. Several artists from the Label, including Agallah, Sean Price, Pretty Ugly, JoJo Pellegrino and Black Rob as well as Royce Da 5’9” were featured on “Game FM”, a radio station inside the game itself. Royce himself contributed three singles: “We’re Live (Danger)”, “Spit Game”, and “I’m The King”, the latter of which was edited specifically for the game.
Royce formed a crew in the late 1990s called D-Elite which included himself, Tre’ Little, Billy Nix, Jah Da 5’9” (now known as June), Cut Throat/Cutty Mack, and Cha Cha, who is the only female of the group and is said to be Royce’s little sister. The group appeared together on the original version of the album Rock City on a song titled “D-Elite Part 2”. This was the groups only commercial release as a whole.
|1.1 Bad Meets Evil
Royce Da 5’9” benefited from his association with fellow Detroit MC, Eminem, which existed prior to Eminem signing his deal with Interscope/Aftermath Entertainment. Royce was introduced to Eminem by his manager, Kino Childrey at an Usher concert, where Eminem was selling copies of his Slim Shady EP. The two formed a duo called Bad Meets Evil (with Royce occupying the ‘Bad’ half, and Eminem the ‘Evil’ half). Bad Meets Evil produced a number of tracks including “Scary Movies”, “Nuttin’ to Do”, “She’s the One”, “Renegades” [Original Version] and “See You In Hell”, which appeared on Eminem’s album The Slim Shady LP, titled “Bad Meets Evil”. Communication between the pair deteriorated as Eminem’s career enjoyed increased success and a series of circumstances led to the emergence of conflict.
Royce and Eminem were mutual friends with Proof, of Eminem’s six-man clique, D12. Royce gives Proof a shout- out on “Nickel Nine Is…”, from Rock City. However, Royce and another D12 member, Bizarre had beef originating from a freestyle battle with Royce’s brother. With the break down of communication, this beef developed to include all the members of D12.
After the release of his 2005 album Independent’s Day, Royce has kept a low profile even though he had promised a second album in December of that year, produced by Nottz. Royce recently went on tour with Mobb Deep, and ghostwrote the song “Tell Me” ft. Christina Aguilera for P Diddy’s new album, Press Play. He also does touring rounds to promote his new crew the M.I.C. (Make It Count), and is scheduled to make an appearance on Canibus’ next album.
M.I.C. is also the name of his independent record label. The M.I.C. members are as follows: Royce, Kid Vishis (Royce’s younger brother), June, Haus Dooley, and Sucka Free.
In a September 2006 interview with Elemental Magazine, Royce stated that, contrary to rumors, DJ Premier will not be producing the entirety of his upcoming album, but will be overseeing the project as Executive Producer, handpicking all of the beats. The Premier-produced track “Ding Ding” will be included, as well as four more beats from the producer.
Nas has stated that he would like to sign Royce to his new recording label, The Jones Experience, through Def Jam.
Royce Da 5’9” was sentenced to jail on September 21, 2006, for violation of his parole. He went to court for a driving under the influence (DUI) offense which resulted in failing his parole terms. The Oakland County judge subsequently sentenced Royce to one year imprisonment in Oakland County Jail, Pontiac, Michigan. Royce may be able to place an appeal within 30 days of his incarceration. He was in the process of making a new album with DJ Premier at the time of the arrest.
Royce Da 5’9” has been noted for his structure — often two or more of his lines will rhyme exactly, beginning to end. He also has been known to move from one set of rhymes to another, then come back to the first set later in his verse. Phrasing is also a big part of his style, appearing to avoid putting things in simple or common terms.
|4.1 Dr. Dre
Circa 1998 Eminem called Royce to the studio to participate in Dr Dre’s 2001 project as a ghostwriter. He contributed tracks including “The Message” and the original version of “Xxplosive” titled “The Way I Be Pimpin”. The latter featured verses rapped by Dr. Dre about pimping and getting money, with Royce singing the hook. While working with Dr Dre, Royce recorded tracks presumably for his own project, including “The Throne is Mine” and “Stay in Your Place”. This led to speculation that Royce was to be signed to Aftermath Entertainment. However, Royce’s association with Dr Dre ended when Royce’s manager, Kino Childrey mentioned to a reporter about his ghostwriting efforts. When Royce refused to dismiss Kino, who was a long-time friend, his ties with Dre were severed and “Xxplosive” was retouched to its current state. Despite “The Message” being released on 2001, Royce was never paid for his efforts. He references this in “What I Know”, from Death is Certain: “Who could raise me / after I been amazed by Dre / — and N.W.A. — / and you couldn’t pay me / to back the staff for free. / I will believe it ain’t nothin’ Shady in the Aftermath.”
|4.2 Shady Records
In 2002, Royce would call Eminem and ask to be signed to Shady Records. Busy with his movie 8 Mile at the time, Eminem refused, but about a week later signed 50 Cent. Royce took this in stride, agreeing to do the Anger Management Tour with his crew D-Elite. While on tour, D12 took offense to a line Royce had written for the tour: “Fuck Anger Management, I need someone to manage my anger.”
They took the line to Eminem, and from there a series of misunderstandings escalated the beef. A barfight between D12 and D-Elite culminated in Eminem and Royce not speaking, and a rekindled beef between Royce and all of D12, including Proof.
Detroit’s radio stations were alive with the controversy, playing diss tracks back and forth which included “Smack Down” [D12 minus Eminem over 50 Cent’s “Back Down” beat]. The track opens with an audio clip from an interview where Royce disses D12, calling them “the worst rap group ever”. It attacks Royce’s street credibility and alleges that D12 made his career possible. Proof recorded “Many Men” [Over 50 Cent’s “Many Men” beat], which addressed false rumours that Royce had ordered a hit on Proof.
Royce released a slew of diss tracks including “Shit On You” [Over D12’s, Shit On You beat], which was mostly aimed at Bizarre. This track riticules Bizarre’s limited ability as a rapper and his suffering from a speech impediment. Royce also recorded, “We Ridin’” and “Death Day” [Over 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” beat]. Of these, the most hard hitting was “Malcom X” [Over Capone-N-Noreaga’s “Bang Bang” beat], featuring Tre Little of D- Elite.
While Royce and Eminem never directly dissed each other, the rap world focused on their relationship, mostly overlooking the friction between Royce and Proof, who had been even closer friends. That beef continued for two years, during which Royce suffered from severe depression and a drinking problem, but released some of his most recognized material. For instance, his dark sophomore LP Death Is Certain, which garnered favorable reviews from many publications and critics. (See links section for reference).
In 2003, his conflict with Proof finally boiled over in a confrontation on the streets of Detroit. The two rappers’ entourages gathered around them, as they spoke heatedly and brandished guns. The police arrested them, and they spent the night in neighboring cells, working out their differences. The two have since ended their beef and have been in the studio. This situation is addressed in Beef 2, the second in a series of documentaries about beef in the rap industry.
Royce had a small dispute with Ruff Ryders over the line “Royce, Reef, Double R” on a song, and 1970s disco band Rose Royce, wherein they accused him of stealing their name. He had a problem with popular producer Kanye West over an unreleased song, “Heartbeat”, the beat to which Kanye produced. Kanye maintains that Royce never paid for the beat but recorded to it and released it; hearing the song, the original customers decided not to buy it from West. After the disagreement, West vowed to never work with Royce again.
|5 Trivia|- Royce Da 5’9” lived off Pierson Street and W. Seven Mile Road in Detroit, but moved to Oak Park, Michigan when he was 10 years old.|- He had a short verse on pop singer Willa Ford’s hit single “I Wanna Be Bad”.|- He is married and has a son named Royce.|- Eminem gave Royce a shout out on “Girls”, a diss track directed at Limp Bizkit and DJ Lethal from D12’s 2001 album Devil’s Night.|- Royce is mentioned in Pace Won’s diss track to Eminem, “Rap Music”. On this track, Pace Won criticises Eminem for abandoning those who collaborated with him in the formative stages of his career.|- Many Detroit inner-city residents believe that Royce Da 5’9” is a better freestyle MC than Eminem, but also that Proof was the best ever to come out of the city.|- On Royce’s song ‘Meeting of the Bosses’ on Independents Day he gives a shout out to the HBO show ‘The Wire’ with the lyrics “Of an empire, coming to the floor, Through The Wire like Avon and String” referring to Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell, the two main gangsters in the show. The lyric is commonly misquoted as him saying “Of an empire, coming to the floor,Through the wire like eight on a string”