Eminem & Royce 5’9’s Original First Collabo Showed It’s All Good When Bad Meets Evil (Audio)
Though Royce 5’9 and Eminem would have listeners convinced they are the living embodiment of all that is bad and evil, on the mic, Slim Shady and Nickel Nine are a match made in heaven. Em’ is generally revered as a “Rap God,” but the equally skillful Royce takes “Second Place” to no MC. As a duo, their chemistry is undeniable, and has been since Bad Meets Evil first linked two decades ago, in 1997.
How did bad and evil meet? Perhaps not the likeliest of settings for a group spawned in hellfire: at an Usher concert. Royce, then relatively unknown, was opening for the singer at the Palladium in Detroit on one of the most eventful nights of the rapper’s life, detailed in the autobiographical song “Tabernacle” on his 2016 album, Layers. Before rushing to the hospital, only to miss the birth of his son and learn that his grandmother had just passed in the same building, Royce performed at the nightclub and was subsequently introduced to Em. The “Low Down, Dirty” rapper, who was already somewhat established on the scene, was selling cassettes of his seminal Slim Shady EP from a booth in the audience and was impressed by Royce’s lyricism and stage show. “I heard him rhyme on stage that night, and was like, ‘Who the f*ck is this dude?’” Slim told Complex. “He rhymed with no beat and then he dove in the crowd or some sh*t! We linked up shortly after that and did a song together.”
The song would be none other than the namesake of their long-awaited 2011 collaborative project as Bad Meets Evil, Hell: The Sequel. On “Bad Meets Evil” the song, and the eventual 1999 remake, Royce ends the last hook, “See you in hell for the sequel.”
Heads are likely more familiar with The Slim Shady LP’s rendition of the track, which features slightly altered rhymes and a different beat. The Dr. Seuss-produced original was switched out for Bass Brothers production on 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,” explained Slim. “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,” added Royce.
A year before the Slim Shady LP’s release, the duo put out a 12” vinyl single on Source co-founder Jonathan “Shecky Green” Shecter’s short lived Game Recordings indie label. Its b-side, “Scary Movies,” became somewhat of an underground classic. An eventual temporary falling out prevented Royce’s on-track claim of more music to come from the group, besides his Slim Shady LP appearance, until 2011.
#BonusBeat: Listen to the original version of “Renegade,” recorded by Bad Meets Evil before Eminem gave it to Jay-Z for The Blueprint.
This was leaked in 2001.