Royce 5’9’ is coming to Australia for his first headline tour. One of Detroit’s most prolific rapper’s has proven he is more than just a collaborator with Eminem. Having also been a member of the lyrical assassins known as Slaughterhouse and DJ Premier as a member of PRhyme. He was also ranked at an impressive #30 on About.com’s Top 50 MC’s of Our Time. His latest album Book of Ryan has received critical acclaim and is his best yet.
Royce 5’9” had a chat to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles and we find out how the new album is his most personal yet. He also promises lots of energy at his show and tells us “Don’t have a shower. Just come to the show and get ready to sweat”. Starting off his tour December 14 in Sydney, arriving in Adelaide on December 19 playing at the HQ Complex.
You’ve been in the industry a long time. How has it changed since you first started?
It was a lot slower in the terms of evolution of technology back then. We kinda like had to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Everybody was out there trying to get a record deal and try to come up with different ways to keep the sales. But now it’s all about following the numbers. Now we have more outlets to connect with people. The fans dictate a lot more of where you at. I look at it as an evolution. It’s a great evolution.
Do you feel closer to your fans this way? Do you understand what they need and want more or do you just do what you do and hopefully they like it?
You know what? I do a little bit of both. I do a little bit of both. Everything starts with what’s in my heart first. There’s a certain way that people bring your point across but the fans they wanna hear you use different techniques, something like that. Kinda like a friend of mine saying “why you doing that?” “don’t do that do this” kinda like that. Its real dope to know how they really feel about it you know? It helps you in the studio for direction.
Your latest album Book of Ryan was released on your own label. Do you feel a sense of creative control because you didn’t have outside pressures telling you how you should do things or how they want a record to sound like?
Yeah, I mean that’s when I work my best. You know I try to keep myself in a position where I don’t have to speak to a lot of people when I’m doing my album. I’ve been in a lot of situations where there’s just too many opinions. I’m in a position right now that where I’m really comfortable in my skin. I know how I want my music to sound and I don’t mind getting help but I just don’t need help.
This album is very personal. How do you feel about revealing so much of yourself, your past and other personal issues? Was it cathartic?
Yes. Very much so. Very much so. It took a minute. It took a minute for me to open up like that but it kinda landed in the right spot. You know what I mean? I always told myself that I wanted everything to flow as natural as possible. I don’t want to push it. I’m just an artist that felt like that and it’s not superficial and if it doesn’t feel natural then it doesn’t feel like the person. It tells me this cos it comes out of me. Its something that reaches out of me. I kinda let it be natural.
How do you feel you have grown even more as an artist after making Book of Ryan?
Definitely. Definitely cos I gained acceptance. My Mum and Dad reacted to it. All my fans reacted to the album and it gave me something to listen to for a long period of time in retrospect. I’m always able to do that with my albums but this one has so much more to dig into. Everything was like a vivid picture and these were like vivid pictures that I lived. I lived them. You know what I mean? So, to be able to go back and kinda criticise the vocals and that’s pretty much how I like it better as an artist. I’m one of those people who like you can always get better and you can always improve and achieve and acquire more skills.
Well this is your seventh album and you’re getting a lot of great reviews and critical acclaim was there any pressure to release a great album after the first six?
I wouldn’t say pressure. I wouldn’t say pressure at all. When I’m in the studio I set my mind to it. I definitely if I set something in my mind my head, I’m definitely going to perform the music. I just push myself. I don’t feel pressure. I’m aware.
Now that your older and have done so many things within the music industry do you find that life is a little bit more rewarding. It’s a lot easier to be in the industry after experiencing so much?
Yeah definitely. You kinda get used to it. You get accustom to it. You start to find out what your strengths are. You play to those strengths and you chill. That’s basically what I’ve been doing. You know what I mean? I’ve found out that the studio is kinda like my happy place. I kinda like keep myself submerged in that. Like I love making new music. I love the fact that the internet is so fully functional. I feel like the world is running around right now and its all at my fingertips. So every now and again I check into the world and I don’t have to leave my studio. I can keep up with what’s going on.
Do you feel that being in the music scene gives you more temptation to live an indulgent lifestyle rather than to keep focused on your music?
Oh yeah definitely. I think the music business is a very distracting. I believe the music business is set up for certain kinds of people. Like certain kinds of people that aren’t here to do music. But I’m not one of those kinds of people. I’m not really here to do bad. Whenever I do something, I’m here to do good in the universe. I’m not here to clash with someone else’s energy. I just try to stay on my own path and the age I am now I can see everything differently now. You know what I mean? I just follow my own path. I don’t go against the grain. I’ve forged relationships. I’ve realised that all those things are around me to tempt me. I’m a righteous man. I don’t partake in it. I show the universe my strength and we just go from there.
You’re coming to Australia soon. What can the fans expect from the live shows?
A lot of energy. We always have a lot of fun. The fans are always great in Australia. I want everyone to come with as much energy as possible. Don’t have a shower. Just come to the show and get ready to sweat.
What’s your favourite song to perform live?
I don’t know if I have a favourite song to perform but Boom is the song if I had to do a song all my career then I would probably have to say Boom. By the time we get to do Boom and as soon as I hear those ticks, I feel an immediate sense of relaxation. A weight has lifted of my shoulders like BOOM! I’m not worried about “will I remember the lyrics?” it’s such a happy comfortable place.
Interview by Anastasia Lambis
Catch Royce 5’9″ on the following dates, tickets through Metropolis Touring…