Just last week Obie Trice released his long-awaited project Bottoms Up on his own independent label, Black Market Entertainment. Most of us know Trice from his Shady Records days, but the change of labels hasn't compromised his ability to deliver a solid follow-up album. Simply put, "Mr. Real Name, No Gimmicks" is still an abrasive, clever lyricist who hasn't missed a beat during his hiatus.
We got on the horn with Trice to hear his thoughts on the new album, working with Eminem and Dre, and his vision for the new label. Since it was the sixth anniversary of Proof’s death, he also took time out to share some memories of his friend, and gave a few insights into what Proof meant to the Detroit rap scene.
It’s been six years since we’ve heard a new Obie album. Do you feel like Bottoms Up picks up right where you left off?
It feels good to have another body of work out here. To be able to touch my fans, the people who supported me from day one, it's a beautiful feeling. It’s just a start of a new beginning. It feels great.
You released it on your own label, Black Market Entertainment. Are you still cool with Shady Records?
We still cool, man. We still people. Ain’t no love lost. Never has been. We always going to be people. That’s just the way we are.
Interscope got rid of me. It wasn’t a Shady type of situation. It had nothing to do with Eminem. We always going to do music. That’s not going to change. The only difference is that I have my own situation going. As far as family—Dre, Em, we always family.
Do you prefer the independent label situation over the major situation with Interscope?
The indie is good. I prefer to be indie. I don’t think I’ll ever do another major deal again, even if the opportunity exists. They just got to be paying me a hell of a lot of money to ever do that again. I'd rather be in control of my own music and my own movement. I’m good with the indie thing.
Where do you see yourself taking Black Market Entertainment? How will you build a label on your own?
The objective is to create opportunities for people like Marshall gave me. I want to do the same thing. Basically, that’s why we started this thing. Just to bring a lot of talent that’s local and creative to the forefront of music. That’s the whole goal.
You said Marshall gave you an opportunity. He’s done some production on this record and did the joint “Richard” with you—plus Dre did the intro for your album. How does that feel to have them contributing to your project?
There's a misconception... a lot of people think that everything is over when business don’t process right. It was business with Interscope which caused me to do my own thing. Interscope got rid of me. It wasn’t a Shady type of situation. It had nothing to do with Eminem. We always going to do music. That’s not going to change. The only difference is that I have my own imprint and I have my own situation going. As far as family—Dre, Em, we always family. Ain’t nothing change.
Can you talk about the concept behind your song “LeBron On”?
A lot of fans, once I left the Shady logo, they kind of turned their back on me. People perceive different things. This is the music industry. This is a business. Careers change every day. That has nothing to do with the way you felt about my music at the time I was over there. “LeBron On” is basically the same thing with LeBron. Once he left Cleveland, people got butt hurt. It’s about if you were there for me and you appreciated my talent and what I brought to the game from day one. just because a business decision has to be made, don’t turn your back on me. That was basically what that song was about.
Today marks the six-year anniversary of Proof’s death. What are your memories of Proof?
I got a story where I was shot New Year’s Eve of ’05/’06. New Year’s Day, actually. Yeah, I was shot in the head and almost died. Proof came to the hospital, this and that and the other. I went to my house and he drove to my house. Once me and Proof and everybody else—which was a lot of people at my house, matter of fact. Once we got there, my keys to my truck that had my house keys was with the Michigan State Police for investigating a vehicle. I couldn’t get in the crib.
I was shot in the head and almost died. Proof came to the hospital, this and that and the other. I went to my house and he drove to my house. Once we got there, my keys to my truck that had my house keys was with the Michigan State Police for investigating a vehicle. I couldn’t get in the crib...
We standing out in front of my house, about 50 people in front of the house. I got this bandage wrapped around my head. I’m leaking. Blood. The bandage is getting fucked up. I need to re-do it. We outside for a long time. So Proof was like, “Let me figure this out.” He left and went around the house somewhere. My house was huge. He leaves for a while. We forget that he leaves. It’s like ten minutes in. We were all talking about the shit and who did it and the retaliation factor and a whole lot of different things. Before we know it, this guy was opening my door like, “Hey, welcome.” [Laughs.]
My house heavily secured. I got cameras everywhere, you know what I'm sayin’? My windows is locked. To this day, I never know how he got in my home. He wouldn’t tell us. We just laughed about that shit.
I went to the hospital at Providence Hospital in Detroit. They had released me after so long. Because the bullet was left in an inch near my brain, they couldn’t do surgery to remove it because they were worried about hemorrhages and shit like that. The doctor opted to just keep it in. I still haven’t removed it. Now my doctor is like, “It’s cosmetic work, Obie. All we got to do is slit your head and pull your scalp back a little bit and pull it out.” And I’m like, “Shit, I’m not fucking with that.”