Eminem: “Royce and I met in 1997. He was opening up for Usher at the Palladium. He was kind of coming up on the scene. I had been around for a minute and had started to get a buzz, but he, at that time, didn’t really have a buzz yet. I wasn’t signed yet so at this show I had my own little booth set up, and I was selling my tapes—the Slim Shady EP. I heard him rhyme on stage that night, and was like, ‘Who the fuck is this dude?’ I met his manager first, and then we kicked it.”
Royce da 5’9”: “The first time I went to The Hip-Hop Shop Eminem was in there. So I was very aware of who he was. That’s why my managers approached him, because as soon as I heard him rap, and heard he had an EP, I went and bought it. I had been listening to it. That’s probably what made my man go up to him, and approach him about us doing some songs. It was good that I got to kick an acapella during that show so he could actually hear me, because otherwise we might not have linked up.”
Royce da 5’9”: “I had the original beat from a guy named Dr. Seuss, but Em came up with the whole concept [for Bad Meets Evil].”
Eminem: “It was just one of the lines [in my verse] or something—”
Royce da 5’9”: “—That you thought I should repeat. But you already had the hook when I got to the studio. I remember only having to lay verses.”
Eminem: “Oh yeah, ‘This is what happens when bad meets evil.’ So then I decided when I was recording the Slim Shady LP [in the Spring of ‘98], that I wanted to use that song for the album. We stuck to that concept and kept most of the rhymes, but I think the beat changed because there was a sample in the original beat. So we had to rework the beat.”
Royce da 5’9”: “Yeah, so then Em had me come out to L.A. to re-record the song, and he and the Bass Brothers had made a whole new beat. We changed up a couple things on it [as far as lyrics]. Just a few lines.”
Eminem: “I haven’t heard the fucking song in so long I can’t even remember. [Laughs.]”
Royce da 5’9”: “How much reflecting back are we going to have to do? Because this might not go so well. [Laughs.]”
Eminem: “Drugs put holes in my brain. I seriously don’t remember shit. [Laughs.] But yeah, as I was making The Slim Shady LP it just ended up happening that like... D12—we were a group... kind of. We had not lost touch, but kind of had... Well, I went to L.A. I just picked up to go record the album, and it almost felt like I just picked up and left.
“I mean, I really didn’t, but I was out there for several months. Actually, Me and Proof, at that time we had one of our little falling outs that we would have every now and then where we weren’t speaking. We were both being babies. Me and him weren’t really talking, but I talked to Bizarre and he’d be like, ‘Yo you talk to Proof yet? Nah, I ain’t talked to him. You guys need to work that shit out.’
“So I would keep in contact with everybody and tell them what I was doing and shit like that, but D12 hadn’t decided like, ‘Let’s be a group again.’ So the group was in limbo. I wasn’t even clear where my career was going at that point, it was, ‘I got this deal with Dre. I’m out here. Whatever.’
“While I was out in L.A. recording I started doing a lot of radio and some shows so I was looking for someone to back me up on stage, and me and Royce started developing our relationship before I got signed and we had the song that I wanted to re-do. I thought, ‘Yo this kid is ill. Let me bring him with me.’ My goal back then was to try and get him a deal, but also have him help me on stage. I don’t know, it just all seemed to fall together back then.”
Jonathan Shecter (Founder Of Game Records): “Basically, it was ‘98, I was a year or two from leaving The Source and I was starting to put out records in the hip-hop space. At the time, I was developing an idea which later became Hip-Hop Honeys, the DVD series. But I was doing shoots with a lot of different girls and trying to get into that kind of hip-hop/Playboy space. I had the idea to use that imagery as the cover of the records.
“I put out a record with Lord Digga, who’s a part of Masta Ace’s crew. I got a decent response. It sold a little bit. Basically, around that same time, Noah [Callahan-Bever] gave me The Slim Shady EP. Eminem was incredibly exciting, really funny, entertaining, and clever. Basically just a rapper of the scale that we had never heard before. I immediately fell in love with it.
“Then I came across this VHS tape of Sway and Tech’s radio show from L.A. and there was two Eminem freestyles on there. I was just blown away by both of them. I called the number on the tape. It was Paul Rosenberg, and I basically said, ‘Hey, Paul, this is Jonathan Shecter. I’m a big fan of what you guys are doing.’ He’s like, ‘Wait, is this Jonathan Shecter from The Source?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah,’ and he’s like, ‘Oh my God, I’m a huge fan! I wrote you a letter in the first year of The Source and you guys published it!’
“We got together and immediately hit it off. We had a lot of similar tastes in music. At the time, Eminem was signed to Interscope, but his record had not been released yet, so it was still in that limbo. I think at that time, most of the album was done, but it hadn’t been released and no one knew what was going to happen. I think Paul probably played me a few songs, one of them was probably ‘My Name Is’ and I was blown away by how incredible it was.
“I said, ‘Hey, man, I’d really love to work with you. I know you have this deal, is there any way we can work together? You want to put out an independent record?’ Paul’s like, ‘We can’t do that with Eminem because he’s signed to Interscope, but there may be an opportunity with Bad Meets Evil. This guy, Royce Da 5’9”, who Eminem really respects as another great rapper in Detroit, they have a song together on the new album called ‘Bad Meets Evil.’ We can do it this way and call it Bad Meets Evil.’ I’m like, ‘Great, let’s do it. I’m all for it.’”
Paul Rosenberg (Eminem's Manager, and President of Shady Records and CEO of Goliath Artists): “Technically he was signed as a recording artist at Interscope so anything he does requires their consent. I believe they gave consent and if they didn’t it was so early that they didn’t really mind since Em was just getting started. The whole thing sorta happened on vinyl on an independent label underneath the radar.”
Jonathan Shecter (Founder Of Game Records): “So Paul and Eminem brought Royce into my office, which was at the time was on West Broadway and Leonard Street in Tribeca, New York City. I would say, probably six weeks [after my initial conversation with Paul Rosenberg, this went down.]
“So we negotiated a modest independent record deal with just one single. It was a $5,000 [advance], I believe, something in that range. That was the budget for Eminem and Royce and me and [the producer] Rob “Reef” Tewlow, who was one of my colleagues at The Source, and also one of my best friends, had our own deal.
“We all came together about six weeks into it, started hanging out, and immediately fell into the Eminem universe. At that time, before he had really blown up, he was so hungry, that he would just rap all the time. If you’re sitting in the room with him, he’d just be freestyling. He’d be rapping for hours and hours of the day because he was bursting at the seams with hip-hop and rhyming.
“His talent was so strong, he had to let it out and it hadn’t been appreciated yet at all by the public. It was all kind of built up inside of him at that time. It was a very entertaining and interesting time to be around to witness all that.
“Overall, it was generally a really good relationship for what it was. We all knew that it was an independent thing, that it wasn’t the big picture thing. We all knew going into it that we’re weren’t getting linked together. There was never a contract or anything. There may have been a contract for the single deal, but really between us, it was a handshake. We all knew Eminem was going to blow up. Royce, meanwhile, ended up becoming an artist that I worked with throughout his first album.”