When were all those songs recorded?
R: We did them right before you got here. [Laughs.]
Wow! They’re pretty good, considering. [Laughs.]
E: I don’t remember when we actually started recording shit.
R: It was off-and-on. We took breaks.
E: Yeah. There were breaks if I had to do a show or he had to go out of town or whatever. Some of the shit, like 50 would come into town and I’d work on shit with him. D12—
R: Nicki, T.I....
E: Yeah. So I was just kind of doing guest appearances, and doing shit that was more fun for me and less stressful. I didn’t have to worry about making an album, but when we did get together we were able to just knock it out.
Is making a full album more stressful?
R: Hell yeah.
E: Yeah, definitely. Just because it’s got to be more... Not to say that we weren’t trying to be a little diverse, and trying to make something for everybody, but we made this more for ourselves than anything. But the way “Lighters” came together with Bruno, it was a good opportunity that that record came together. We were like, “Okay, this will be cool for other people to enjoy, or bring what we’re doing on this EP to a different audience to help broaden it.” But when you’re making an album it’s got to be more diverse material. You’ll do a song like this, and it’s, “Okay, I did a song like this. Now I probably need a song like this. Let me go this direction. Let me go that direction.”
You’re trying to balance it out.
E: Exactly. And with this we just had fun with it.
Royce, I gotta ask: you were definitely a good rapper in 1998, in the last 18 months or so you’ve become a phenomenally good rapper. What happened?
R: Joining the group had a lot to do with my development. That inspired me to want to step it up. When you get around Em, Joey, Crooked, Joell, you realize you’re not as good as you thought you were. That’s pretty much what happened to me. I’m just inspired by my surroundings. I’m just paying attention. Recovery helped me out a lot. Wayne helped me out a lot. I can draw inspiration from him. People that just make it cool to be lyrical again, I’m inspired by them.
Speaking of making it cool to be lyrical, you talked about Odd Future to MTV recently. You know those dudes love Relapse. Like, love it. On some, one of their favorite albums ever.
E: That’s dope. So they wouldn’t snap the CD in half [like the girl on “The Reunion”].
Basically. And they’ve kind of talked it up enough that it feels like public opinion of the album has been revisited. It’s funny—
E: The irony of it, that some people actually like it? [Laughs.]
No, not that some people actually liked it! [Laughs.] It’s just that you’ve been very openly self-critical of that album—
E: I mean, listen, I don’t hate Relapse. I don’t hate it at all, but when I’m looking back at an album I do have a tendency, and especially with that album, to run things into the ground. That was one of those instances where I got in a zone, like, “Yo I just want to be this demented serial killer on this album.” And part of that was a growing process to get to Recovery, working through those steps, relearning how to rap, and relearning where I need to be at.
Speaking of which, congrats on all the success with Recovery. Last time we spoke was, like, the fall of ‘09, and the album was still going to be called Relapse 2—
R: Did he crack any jokes?
E: There was a few jokes.
E: I cracked jokes.
R: In ‘09?
Um... You were a little serious. [Laughs.]
R: He was a fucking meanie! [Laughs.] He had to learn how to be charming again.
Feeling a little more relaxed now, Em?
E: I’m feeling like I’ve got to piss really bad. [Laughs.]
Would you like to take a break? We can do that.
E: Oh, yes. [gets up, goes into the adjoined bathroom, closes the door]
[To Royce, still seated] I’m sorry, I know this can get tedious.
E: [Through closed door] What could possibly be more fun then us talking about ourselves? I can’t think of anything! Royce, can you think of anything?
R: No. This is about to be great.