Royce 5’9 Explains How Beef With Joe Budden Led To A Slaughterhouse (Video)

In the last five weeks, Slaughterhouse has publicly disbanded. Following KXNG Crooked’s (aka Crooked I) announcement that he was stepping out of the group, Royce 5’9 and Joe Budden both responded in the media. The quartet, also including Joell Ortiz, has seemingly hung up its four mics after a run that has lasted just under a decade.

With two albums, two mixtapes, and an EP, Slaughterhouse symbolized four cross-country Rap careers converging to raise their status—especially after Eminem signed the squad to Shady Records. They also raised the bar for a certain kind of Rap music. Appearing on Drink Champs, Royce (who enjoyed a non-alcoholic energy drink) reminded some that may not know that the origins of Slaughterhouse started with beef.

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At 35:20, the artist who released The Book Of Ryan and PRhyme 2 (with DJ Premier) already this year, revisits a 2007 incident that changed Rap history. “I was firing off on [Joe Budden] on my [Bar Exam, Vol. 1] mixtape. Because he just dissed me [on ‘Thou Shall Not Fall’] for no reason.” Royce laughs about it now as N.O.R.E. calls for applause. “He just dissed me for no reason. I got a call out of nowhere, ‘Yo, you know this Joe Budden ni**a?'” Royce says he was loosely familiar with the Jersey City MC who had recently and unceremoniously left Def Jam Records after a lengthy stint. “I had never met him. Bro, I didn’t know Joe. I didn’t know him, wasn’t following him. I’m not gonna say I wasn’t a fan, ’cause my wife liked his first, [self-titled] album. She used to play it, so I’d hear some of the songs.”

The reason the Detroit, Michigan MC and the Garden State spitter were trading insults had to do with a summer 2007 event at S.O.B.’s. “Bro, I got myself in this situation. I was in a battle with Mistah F.A.B.” The event was part of an annual AllHipHop showcase produced by site co-founder Chuck Creekmur. Royce says up until he arrived at the Lower Manhattan club, he was unaware that he was expected to battle. He also was not familiar with who he was facing. Nickel understood he would just be performing verses with another MC on stage before a live audience. Phonte, then of Little Brother, was involved—and reportedly backed out after learning it was a Rap battle. Joe Budden was on the bill, but did not show, reportedly due to a family emergency. Hosted by battle legend Craig G, Royce says that he is not a freestyle MC and was not prepared to take on his Oakland, California counterpart. “[Mistah F.A.B.] smoked me,” Nickel describes nearly 11 years later, “I did not have anything written for [the battle], so I was just doin’ regular raps and sh*t…shout out to Chuck [Creekmur], ’cause he told me I wasn’t comin’ to a battle. He told me something totally different. I got there and was just ambushed.” Adding that Chuck remains a friend, Royce says he considers Fabby Davis “a catalyst” in the ‘House formation.

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Royce remembers the vibe of the club at the intersection of Houston and Varick Streets. “If Joe [Budden] would’ve showed up, he would have won. ‘Cause the whole place was [chanting] ‘Joey!‘ This ni**a kept tellin’ Chuck he was on his way, knowin’ he ain’t comin’. So the whole place is built up.” In the end, Royce and F.A.B. were the only two MCs who performed in the event. 5’9 says that Fabby did not through battle verses in his direction (at Royce’s request), “he would’ve killed me even worse.” Instead, the onetime Mac Dre protege waxed his freestyle skills and impressed the crowd with topical references. “He was kickin’ battle raps, but he wasn’t sayin’ my name,” Royce recalls, having requested F.A.B. not deliver the bars in his direction.

After the event, tensions started between Royce and Joe. At 41:00, he says, “After [Mistah F.A.B.] won that battle [which appeared] on YouTube (embedded below), Joe—knowing he didn’t show up—goes and looks at the footage. So I guess maybe he was a fan of me before, and he felt like, ‘Oh, Royce fell off, ’cause look how he looks in this battle.’ So you know Joe can’t just keep his feelings to himself; he gotta go public and say this sh*t. This ain’t even ‘podcast Joe,’ this is just ‘troublemaker Joe.’ So he went and [did] an interview with DJ Envy, and he said some sh*t about the battle, and talked about how I looked like sh*t in the battle. And Envy was agreeing with him, like, ‘Yeah, he did look pretty bad.’ So there’s this whole conversation about how bad I looked in the battle, and I don’t have no [voice] to clarify what really happened. It was just an L I had to take.” Joe and Mistah F.A.B. also exchanged words online. In a Mood Muzik 3 song, ‘Thou Shall Not Fall,’ Joe also made light of Royce falling off. “So I did what MCs do. I picked up a pen and told myself that I am not gonna let up on Joe Budden until he responds.” Royce said before using names, he “baited” Joe with subliminal lines. Then he started using names, particularly on the Statik Selektah-assisted Bar Exam mixtape.

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“The sh*t that I was dissin’ him on, he heard that, and he was a fan of that,” Royce recalls. Joe had responses ready, but they never released. “I guess he heard [my disses] and was like, ‘Oh, so I guess this ni**a didn’t fall off.'” Friends and management were reportedly telling Royce and Joe at the time to stop with the beef. “So this ni**a calls me out of nowhere. I’m at the hospital; my first daughter is being born,” Royce says. “We get on the phone. He said, ‘Yo man, I got this song I want you to get on.’ I started to be like, ‘Yo, what’s up with that sh*t you’ve been talkin’…’ But I’m in the hospital about to have my first girl. [My manager and business partner] Kino was like, ‘You shouldn’t be dissin’ him.’ ‘Cause I wrote some more sh*t I was about to put out.” With a reputation for peer problems at the time, Royce says he backed off and “pretended like nothing ever happened, ’cause that’s how Joe is…I took the sh*t personal. He didn’t. I took the sh*t real personal. I was mad…he’s totally oblivious. To him, it’s just Rap. I learned that about him once I got to know him.” In the phone-call Royce recalls, “I was like, ‘who’s gonna be on the song?’ He was like, ‘I’m putting you, Crooked I, and Joell Ortiz.’ I was like, ‘Man, that sh*t sounds like a slaughterhouse.’ He was like, ‘Oh sh*t! I think I’m gonna call the song that.’ So I left the hospital that night, went and laid the verse real quick, came right back to the hospital and sent it to him. He put it out the next day. And that‘s how Slaughterhouse was formed.”

In October 2008, Budden formally released “Slaughterhouse” on his Halfway House project. In addition to the would-be four group members, the Scram Jones-produced song featured Nino Bless. Less than a year later, the collective dropped their eponymous album on eOne Entertainment.

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#BonusBeat: Footage from the Royce 5’9 vs. Mistah F.A.B. “battle”:

This took place in late 2007.