Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” Royce da 5’9” makes his debut appearance. Born and bred in Detroit, the MC was touted as one of the more skilled emcees in the city during the latter half of the ‘90s, a period when he linked up with Eminem, and collaborated with the future star on the song “Bad Meets Evil.” Gaining momentum from his appearances on The Slim Shady LP, Royce secured a deal with Tommy Boy Records, but was ultimately released, which led to him inking a deal with Columbia Records before releasing his debut album, Rock City (Version 2.0), in 2002 on Koch Records. From there, Royce would navigate the independent circuit, releasing a string of critically acclaimed albums that gradually made him one of the most respected lyricists in the game. Reuniting with Eminem in 2011 for Hell: The Sequel, and wowing critics with his solo album, Success is Certain, that same year, Royce’s career has been on the uptick with his latest album, The Allegory, marking his most anticipated release to date. Having paid his dues in full while trudging along the path less traveled, Royce da 5’9” has proven himself to be one of the most relentless rhymes of this generation with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Royce da 5’9” episode of “Drink Champs.” Take a look at them below.
1. On His Epic Radio Freestyles
Royce’s reputation for putting forth marvelous displays of his lyricism during visits to various radio shows has grown in recent years, with his freestyle on the L.A. Leakers being his latest tour de force. He speaks on the pressure he puts on himself to rise to the occasion and how it can compromise other aspects of his craft at times. “It’s hard to memorize,” the rapper says in reference to that particular freestyle. “It took a long time. Some of it, I wrote on a plane. With L.A. Leakers, they want you to do a few takes so they can get different angles. Some it was just bars I had in my phone and I just kinda pieced it together and just kept listening to it over and over and over again. I always have a problem memorizing, but I was just up for it, man. The last time I did something, I did Flex, shout out to Flex, and I hadn’t done anything since then, so I just really wanted to, like, [impress]. I feel bad saying no, man, especially when it’s, like, Sway, Cosmic Kev, I feel bad saying no, man, but if it can’t be, like, at least close to a moment, I don’t wanna put myself in that position ‘cause I know what I’m capable of doing and I hate to do some half-assed shit for somebody that I’m not prepared to do.
2. On Shouting Out Rihanna During the Shady Records BET Cypher
In 2011, during the Shady 2.0 Cypher, Royce gave a random shout-out to Rihanna, which garnered headlines and gave new meaning to the term “shooting your shot.” He shares what inspired him to drop the pop star’s name in his rhyme. “Damn, I can’t even remember what I was thinking at the time when I wrote that,” he admits. “I just wanted it to be catchy, I was just trying to come up with something catchy. The same way we write songs, I just wanted to write something that I felt like was for that moment — that was plausible for that moment.”
3. The Backstory Behind Eminem’s Skit On His Album
Eminem, Royce’s longtime friend and partner-in-rhyme, makes an appearances on The Allegory on a skit titled “Perspective.” During his sit-down, the “Rock City” spitter reveals how a discussion between the two of them wound up on the album. “We were having a conversation,” Royce recalls. “We’re talking about a lot of deep things, we was talking about everything. Me and ‘Em, I ain’t spoke to him in a minute, but we sit on the phone for hours and just talk about a lot of different things, how they’re affecting us, how they affect our day. Perspective is like a big topic of conversation, the way that people see things and why we think that people see things a certain way. So, we was just kicking and he just talked for like, maybe ten, fifteen minutes straight. I didn’t say a word, he was just going off. Not on no mad shit, but he was just kicking some shit. We was just talking, sometimes you get the holy ghost in the conversation. I was just sitting there listening to him and I was like, ‘Wow. This isn’t what you heard, this is what I heard. So, after we was done talking, I was like, ‘Yo, do you think if I sent you a beat, you can say everything you said or some derivative of it?’ He was like, ‘Shit, I don’t even know what I just said, but I can try.’ So, I sent him a beat the next day and he went in and talked for twelve minutes.”
4. On Freestyling With Pharrell Williams Over The Phone
One interesting revelation from Royce’s interview is his history with Pharrell Williams, whom he recalls engaging in a cipher with over the phone prior to either of the two reaching stardom. “I remember Pharrell, he reminded me a lot of Nas,” Royce shares of his initial impression of the future super-producer. “I remember thinking he was smooth, super smooth with it. He just kept rapping about a Benz Wagon, he just kept saying something about a Benz Wagon and I remember I kept saying, ‘What is a Benz Wagon?’ Now that I look at it in retrospect, the nigga probably already had two or three of them at that moment.”
5. On Wrecking A Record Executive’s Apartment
An admitted wildcard during the earlier years of his career, Royce recalls the time he turned Tommy Boy founder Tom Silverman’s New York City apartment into a crash-pad for his homies and how the situation ultimately went left. “So, we needed somewhere to stay at in order for me to record the album,” he explains. “So, he gave us his apartment, one of his spots that he had. He’s subleasing this big ass apartment, it was a great apartment, man, and I remember just being in there and my bro came into town. This is when Marshall won the Moonman [award]. Marhsall had won his first Moonman that night and we were all just, like, happy for him, and everybody was drunk and high and I remember it being about 10-15 niggas in the apartment. Everybody was from Detroit, everybody flew in and everybody was staying at my [apartment]. Well, it was my apartment at the time, in my mind. I just remember my big bro getting into it with somebody that he brought with him and I remember them having words, and grabbing each other. And I remember my bro grabbing him and pulling him into the bathroom and slamming the door behind him, and I’m hearing nothing but just ruckus in the bathroom. And I was just thinking to myself like, ‘This is not gonna be good, this is not gonna be good, this is not gonna be good in there.’ So about five minutes later, they come out, breathing all hard and I hear my big bro like — ‘cause the dude was supposed to be like muscle — and he was like, ‘I ain’t supposed to be able to throw your big ass around like that.’ So, I go in the bathroom and the fucking shower rod is torn down, the mirror is off the wall, there’s holes in the wall, it couldn’t be worse than what I saw in there and I remember just thinking to myself, like ‘Damn.’ And they stayed for a couple of days, so the whole apartment was kind of like trashed, it looked like some rockers just stayed there. So, the housekeeping lady came, she didn’t even clean it, she just took one look at and turned around, and walked out again. Then, I guess weekly, she has to do a report, and she said, I quote, ‘It looked like a crackhouse in there,’ and that’s what she told [Tom Silverman]. I never spoke to Tom Silverman after that.”
6. On His and Eminem’s Unreleased Songs With The Neptunes
Another tidbit that may catch “Drink Champs” viewers by surprise is the existence of multiple Eminem and Royce collaborations produced by The Neptunes. When asked if they’ve ever gotten in the studio together, Royce shares the two instances he remembers working with them. “I remember us getting in the studio with Pharrell,” he reveals. “We did a song called ‘She The One,’ me and Marshall did it over a Neptunes beat. I think it may have been on YouTube or something, it’s never been officially released. And we also got in the studio together for the [Any Given Sunday Soundtrack].”
7. The Backstory Behind His DUI Conviction
In September, 2006, Royce was sentenced to one year in prison for violating his probation, a moment the rapper looks at a turning point in his life. When asked what led up to his incarceration, Royce chalks it up to a lapse of judgement. “I was drinking Patron and what had happened was, I was drinking and driving,” he says. “I got pulled over late at night... and I remember my lawyer, when I got that offense, pushing the court date back ‘cause we was gonna try and beat it. So, they put me on some program called J.A.M.S, and that’s basically where they’ll assign you a color and if your color comes up, you gotta check everyday, you gotta call this number everyday and if you call it and you hear your color, you gotta go blow into a device that next morning. My color came up, I went and blew into the device and I blew dirty ‘cause I was drinking the night before. I wasn’t lit up the night before, but I drank the night before and somebody told me, ‘Yeah, man, all you gotta do is just stop drinking at 11 o’clock,’ or whatever he said. So, I go and I blow and I blow dirty so that’s an offense and then before I can even go to court to rectify anything, I get another DUI, I get pulled over again. I got two in the air at the same time and I blew dirty. And I got driving with a license suspended offenses running concurrent. It’s just that when you get caught drinking and driving, suspended license is another charge that we don’t even discuss cause drinking and driving is such a big deal, but the driving with a suspended license is just as big of a deal.”
8. On His Relationship With Joe Budden
Royce’s relationship with former Slaughterhouse group-mate Joe Budden has been up and down through the years with Budden’s recent appraisals of the quality of Eminem’s music driving a wedge between the two. The Allegory creator sheds light on his feelings about the situation, and how he and Budden were able to move past their difference in opinion. “I don’t remember exactly what was said,” Royce says of his exchange with the rapper-turned-media personality. “I just remember us having a long conversation where he expressed how he felt about it and I expressed how I felt about it. I think I had just did my rollout for my last album, Book of Ryan, and I remember I went through that whole rollout, and I kept having to, like, talk about Joe. I kept having to speak about him, but his name kept coming up, but it was more in a negative sort of light. Like people were kind of like, not pitting us against each other, but the way his name was coming up, I didn’t like it. It was a zillion different ways he could’ve handled but just in regards to me, I think I remember telling him something along the lines of I don’t deserve that, I didn’t sign up for that. It’s what we said earlier, like, I’m just about the raps, I’m not about this. I’m not about the grey area, it’s one thing or the other thing with me. You’re my friend and that’s how I am with my friends, though. If I have an issue with something or one of my friends, we bring it to the table, we talk about it, we yell about it, whatever needs to happen and then we come to a solution, a resolution and that’s what we did. We came to a resolution, he apologized to me. He told me he loved me, he didn’t want me to feel like that, I accepted his apology.”
9. N.O.R.E. Shares A Hilarious Memory of Big Pun
Given his kinship with the late great Big Pun, N.O.R.E.’s firsthand knowledge of the icon’s penchant for pranks has manifested in a number of never-before-heard tales, the latest involving snow, waters guns, and a pair of women. “They was running Triz with these bitches,” N.O.R.E. remembers. “This was on 32nd or 23rd Street, like by Chelsea Diner. I don’t know why they wanted to do this, but this is how we was in the ‘90s. So, Pun sends his two boys to fill up the super-squirter. Now it’s 0 below, this is the sprinter van before they were some sprinter vans, we were calling it a Vantastic. So, they jump off with the two girls and Pun sends his guys to go load up the super-squirter, but for some reason, I go out to smoke a cigarette. And I see them loading up the super-squirter, the problem was, they was loading up the super-squirter with the snow slush [on the ground]. I imagined it was yellow snow somewhere, I couldn’t visually see it, So I looked and this is when I knew I was officially a foul nigga ‘cause I was smoking a cigarette and I see I could’ve full warned these bitches, like ‘Go the other way,’ but I wanted to see how shit was gonna play out, so I looked and I heard my mama telling me [in my head], ‘Boy, tell them girls to go the other,’ and I was like, ‘But ma, let me just see this.’ And I stood there and lit the cigarette, and they didn’t even talk to each other, Pun and ‘em, they just looked at each other and the chicks came out and they squirted ‘em. And I’m telling you, it was so cold that her shit got icicles, her eyelashes.”