Producer: DJ Premier
Album: Street Hop
Label: M.I.C. Records, One Records
Royce Da 5’9”: “I was in New York with Preem. I actually took it in the other room in Preem’s studio, trying to come up with something to it. And I had like eight bars, but I wasn’t sure about the bars that I had or the direction it was going. So I was like, I’m going to take this back to Detroit and live with it for a minute.
“As soon as I got back, I had to go to court for these DUIs for driving drunk and shit. The judge gave me a year in jail. So I had to go to jail for three or four months and then I got out on work release. I did the rest of my time on work release and when I got out on work release, that was the first beat that I got to.
I was [in an] abusive period. I pulverized bottles, I was abusive towards that. I was abusive towards my girl—not physically, but mentally and verbally.
“I pulled that beat back up, after not hearing it for four months and I went a whole other direction. It ended up being conceptual instead of just a regular spitting bomb. That’s how I felt when I was on work release, that I’ve gotta shake all of this shit off. This is getting out of hand.
“Somebody was speaking to [my manager] Kino on the phone when I was locked up and they made a comment like, ‘Yeah, your man ain’t coming back from this one.’ And I actually thought this person was a friend of mine. When he referred to me as Kino’s man—like I’m not his man—and said I’m not going to come back from it...
“He was basically saying I fell off and, ‘Nobody’s going to want to hear what he has to say when he gets out.’ A lot of those type of comments were getting made. When I have people against me and hurdles to leap over, that’s when I’m at my best. My main thing was just to prove those people wrong. It started with that record and I’ve been pushing ever since.
“[At the time of my arrest] I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t really happy at the house because my girl wasn’t happy. When I got to the house that environment wasn’t cool, so I just wanted to be out with my people. And if I wasn’t looking for somebody I was beefing with, then we would sit in a studio somewhere, drinking. The studio was the only happy place. We could sit in there and drink, crack jokes, and I felt safe.
“I was [in an] abusive period. I pulverized bottles, I was abusive towards that. I was abusive towards my girl—not physically, but mentally and verbally. Abusive to my enemies and they were abusive back.
I might’ve drank so much just to keep my mind off of what was going on and to let my inhibitions go. If I’m drunk and see somebody, I’ma just shoot them. That’s how I felt. It was a terrible way for me to be living my life but it was just...what it was.
“I might’ve drank so much just to keep my mind off of what was going on and to let my inhibitions go. If I’m drunk and see somebody, I’ma just shoot them. That’s how I felt. It was a terrible way for me to be living my life but it was just...what it was. I felt that it was all brought on by music because I didn’t’ have these problems before I was in the music industry.
“I think I grew out of a lot of it. You start to grow up and do less hollering. It goes from [yelling], ‘I’ll kill you!’ to ‘You know I’ll kill you, right?’ You calm down a little bit and that’s basically what happened. A lot of that shit fizzled out. I think I gained a lot of respect out of people that were against me. I squashed a lot of the beefs and I started to grow up.
“As time went by, I went through a phase where I was kind of quiet. People didn’t see me, I wasn’t putting out a lot of music. I started developing more as an artist. I started getting involved in production, started putting out random stuff. I just started connecting. I became Internet-savvy, started to see what was going on online, and getting up on other artists that had an underground buzz.
“I saw a little bit of a trend. I saw what Joe Budden was doing, what Crooked I was doing, what Ortiz was doing, and I just started building that way. And then after a while it kinda connected. I started building relationships again. I just had to turn everything around, it was a real long process but it had to happen.”