Royce Da 5’9 Answers Fan Questions & Reflects on His Idol J Dilla (Video Interview)
On Sunday, January 31, Ambrosia for Heads hosted a live-streaming conversation with Royce Da 5’9, the celebrated Detroit MC whose work as a solo artist, a member of Slaughterhouse, and a member of PRhyme makes him one of the busiest and most in-demand performers in the game. With a headlining performance during J Dilla Weekend in Miami February 5-7, the fellow Motor City native will join DJ Premier, Slum Village, Black Thought, Bun B, Rapsody, 9th Wonder, and many others including the just-announced Pete Rock (see below) as the Hip-Hop community celebrates the life and legacy of J Dilla, 10 years after his passing.
As such, Royce shared his reflections on the late producer with us and fans tuning in, thanks to Facebook’s new “Live” capabilities. With questions taken directly from comments left by viewers, the conversation with Royce touched upon a wide range of topics, many of which were driven by the audience, adding a unique and multi-faceted characteristic to the interview. From Royce’s work with Dilla, why he was so universally loved, what his influence was and continues to be, and much more, it is a conversation laden with love and respect.
To begin, Royce takes a few moments to share what Dilla meant to him, particularly as an inspiration in the Detroit music scene. “He was, like, one of the guys in Detroit that we looked up to growing up…just so talented…he definitely wasn’t one of those guys who, after his unfortunate passing, that people finally caught on to. They knew it when he was alive.” Taking it back to 1995, Royce is asked about how it felt to have someone from Detroit – J Dilla – representing the city so remarkably through his work on Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia, released around the same time Royce himself entered the game. “We were all rootin’ for him. I don’t really remember a time when there were Dilla haters, and Detroit is kind of a hub for that sometimes, it’s like kind of a hub for for negativity sometimes. A lot of the negativity that comes out of my city gets paid attention to. But with Dilla, man. Everybody loved Dilla.”
When asked about his experience working with Dilla on 2000’s “Let’s Grow,” a cut from the Lyricist Lounge 2 compilation, Royce’s memories are still clearly palpable. “That was the only song we did together that came out. But we did plenty of other songs. We did like, four or five others songs. I went over to his crib and recorded for like, a whole weekend. Actually, Common was there up in the living room while I was downstairs in the basement recording. That was like, real cool. My first meeting him. Legendary.” Even Dilla’s process in the lab is something that has clearly left a mark on Royce. He says Dilla’s most outstanding quality in the studio was “just letting you do what you do. He had a lot of input during the mix process, which I think is really smart. When you’re working with an artist, you’re going in with an empty canvas where everything is blank and you just kinda let the artist get all of the thoughts out…once he came in, his presence in the mix just brought everything together. From the drops, the song structure, taking this out and adding that, he was just a genius at that.” What made him different from others, he says, was his uncanny ability to hear things others couldn’t. “Sonically, he was just able to achieve a sound that I never think I really heard. I’ve heard it imitated. I don’t think I’ve quite heard it duplicated.”
Fan questions include whether it’s true Royce gave out his phone number to people (“Yeah…I don’t see what’s wrong with that, man”), at which point he proceeds to call one of his fans (5:29); who his greatest influences in Hip-Hop are (“I’ll forever be influenced by Jay Z”, “King Los really inspires me lyrically”); whether there will be another PRhyme album in the future (“Definitely”), and much more.