Royce 5’9 Explains Why He’s A GOAT Rapper (Video)

Just over one week ago, Royce 5’9 released his eighth album, The Allegory. It marks a benchmark LP in a discography decorated with greatness. On one single, “I Don’t Age,” the Detroit, Michigan MC proclaims, “They say you are what you eat, but I never ate goat.

Speaking with Ambrosia For Heads in New York City this week, Royce unpacked those words. “I thought it was a pretty snazzy punchline,” he says over lunch, around the 14:00 mark. On camera, the veteran displays a four-finger ring of a goat, a popular moniker for “Greatest Of All Time.” However, Nickel Nine shares a fresh take on the idea. “I don’t think that there’s one. I don’t think that’s possible. [There] has to be a little bit more perspective put on it. It’s okay to generalize it in a punchline. But if it’s speaking truths, there’s a certain level of respect that I have for the generation before me and the OGs that have paved the way for me. I’d never say that I’m better than JAY-Z. I’d never say that I’m better than Eminem, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, KRS-One. I just feel like there’s a certain level of respect that they deserve. I also feel like you should think the world of yourself as an MC. And I think the two can go hand-in-hand. It’s just a certain way that it has to be done. So you can represent the greats.”

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Royce uses NBA basketball as an analogy. “You just gotta understand there is no one. Even Michael Jordan—I think the world of Michael Jordan, [but] there’s Kobe, there’s Lebron—but there’s Michael Jordan. A lot of times, I’ll give Michael Jordan that carte blanche because he came first. It’s not Kobe’s fault when he was born. Kobe took [the game of basketball] somewhere else—but Jordan came first. So you can’t discredit Jordan.”

However, Royce stands up for his claim, especially at a new apex in his amazing career. “So when it comes to putting the words together, I think in my mind, mentally, it’s time for me to start placing myself in the same conversation with the people that I admire, and who I have an undying loyalty and respect for.”

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Earlier in the interview, Royce speaks about viewing Hip-Hop music as art. “I’ve always viewed [music] that way… as art,” Royce shares. “I always look at it like you’re splashing paint on a canvas, and just putting it up. Not only do I put my all into it, but I just hang it up and walk away.”

He adds that after making hundreds of beats, the song in question marked the beginnings of The Allegory. “‘I Don’t Age’ was the first song that I wrote and recorded a Rap to, but when I did it, I wasn’t making an album in my mind. It was just clay,” he says. He would add some more songs to the project, but when he stepped back to admire his handiwork, he felt like it was still an incomplete thought. ” What started as an EP expanded to a 22-song LP, entirely produced by 5’9.

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Elsewhere in the chat, Royce discusses other highlights from The Allegory, including Eminem’s interlude, his brother Kid Vishis’ verse, and the skits.

Additional Reporting by Jake Paine.

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#BonusBeat: Royce 5’9 and Kxng Crooked’s music video for “Tricked”: