Joe Budden, Royce 5’9 And Joell Ortiz Argue About Slaughterhouse & It Ends Badly

In late February, Kxng Crooked and Joell Ortiz announced that they are releasing a March 11 collaboration project, The Rise and Fall of Slaughterhouse. The news came with a webisode series and new music—each addressing the demise of the group the pair formed with another two MCs: Royce 5’9 and Joe Budden. From the onset of the announcement, Budden and Nickel each opined on the move through social media, expressing displeasure.

Last night (March 4), Joe and Royce had much more to say, in a lengthy Instagram Live conversation. The chat followed a second episode of Crooked and Joell’s Fourclosure, as well as another single, “Backstage,” which analyzed the bond between the four MCs. After nearly an hour, Joell Ortiz joined the late Friday night discussion. The exchange got heated, especially between Joe and Joell. Meanwhile, Crooked I looked on from his phone.

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In the newest song, Joell raps, “Here’s a little somethin’ you ain’t know: / We split the dough / And after the tour was over, so was the show / No hangin’ out, no phone calls, just holiday texts / And emails from management on what’s probably up next / But no amount of money is bigger than ego / Ni**as doin’ deals on the side like Nicky in Casino / Joe, you thought you was the head gambino / Made decisions with no regard for the next man, we know, we know / That Rollie lit up nice, it had the large dial / But you was on your ish for that ice just like you are now.

Those words came to life in a public forum. Royce began the IG Live by taking fan questions. Joe Budden joined after about 10 minutes in the embedded video below. Nickel asks his currently-retired band-mate, “Do you think that was the intention—to turn this into like a battle between us two and them two? And if so, what would be the purpose of that?” Joe responds, “No. I don’t think so, man. Let me stop talkin’ sh*t for a minute; I don’t think that. I think this is expression, and you’ve got to support people’s right to expression, right?” Royce’s response includes, “I think it’s difficult to toe the line between telling ‘your truth’ and airing out grievances.” From that point, Budden takes accountability. “I don’t ever want to step on nobody’s truth. What I can say—just from listening—it sounds like I have caused hurt; I put the onus on me.” Joe clarified that “some of the things that I’m reading, seeing, and hearing” are not his truth. Royce adds, “Yeah, these are just straight up diss records at this point.” Joe jokes that if they are disses, they are exclusively aimed at him. “You are catchin’ the strays of it, but this is not to you. This is a Joe Budden [diss fest].”

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Royce then steps into the particulars. He confirms that an advance offer was presented to Slaughterhouse by Hitmaker Services CEO Tony Bucher, reportedly on behalf of a major label. This company has been doing business with Kxng Crooked for years and is releasing The Rise and Fall of Slaughterhouse. Royce also confirms that the four founders of Slaughterhouse have obtained their independence from Shady Records after more than a decade at Eminem’s label. Royce, however, accuses Joell and Crooked of untruths. “We can provide receipts. What’s the purpose of y’all lying?”

Joe describes a frustration he has with Kxng Crooked. “See, I said ‘I’m retired [from rapping]’ to the fans. To [Kxng Crooked], I was truthful and said, ‘Hey, just not over there [at Shady Records].’ And that’s what boggles my mind the most about this—because that caused an issue between me and you [Royce 5’9]. Me and you had to have some real conversations behind friendship.” Royce responds, “Yeah, my whole Book Of Ryan rollout was me getting asked questions about you, and I remember finally getting you on the phone and saying, ‘Fam, what did I do to deserve that?’ It was like a long conversation that we had where we were yelling back and forth.” Joe’s ongoing beef with Eminem reportedly clouded the attention Royce felt his 2018 album deserved.

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Of 2022’s developments, Royce declares, “It’s hard not to be somewhat emotional about it, man. There’s two sides of it. There’s the business side of it—there’s the emotional investment into all of the years, all of the sweat equity that we put into building something ourselves—brick-by-brick from the ground. Then there’s also the friendship aspect of it [when] you know that somebody [who] you consider a friend and you’re watchin’ them make a decision where you know that they know that they are putting the friendship and the brotherhood on the chopping block for a check, and they’re willing to do that.” Using chopping block imagery is powerful given Crooked and Joell’s recent allusions to the Slaughterhouse logo, barbecue, and more. Royce then specifies, “When I say that, I’m talking about Kxng Crooked. I’m not talking about Joell; I love Joell. But me and Joell have never really been close like that. So he told partial truths in the song: we were on the road and we go home, and we go back to our respective corners. But not me and Crook; me and Crook spoke every day, all the time. Like, there’s not an amount of money that you can give me to blind-side Crooked I. I would never do it. I would never do anything to compromise our relationship, and he did everything. He put me in every position that you can think of, as a friend.” Joe defends his distance from Kxng Crooked, alleging that the Long Beach MC repeatedly tried to get Budden to entertain offers.

At 23:00 in the video, Royce reveals that Joe Budden was very close to un-retiring from Rap. Westside Gunn attempted to get all four members of Slaughterhouse on a song together. “I got Joe on the phone and talked him into the idea of doing it,” Nickel recalls. However, that plan never developed. Joe was reportedly down to travel to Royce’s Detroit, Michigan studio and get back into rapping shape before Joell and Crooked arrived. “Gunn just decided to do something different,” Royce claims. “But that’s the only reason why it didn’t happen. So the whole idea of Joey being in retirement and Slaughterhouse splitting up—we never split up. There’s been times where we stopped, then we go again. We stop, then we go again.” Nickel also alludes to issues that were mostly resolved. He then makes another point: “I don’t like the whole misleading narrative that we’ve been doing other things and having them waiting, and they’ve been waiting on us. They’ve done more while Slaughterhouse was on a timeout than we have, put together.” Joe agrees, pointing out that Joell and Crooked each stepped into the media space. “He formed four f*ckin’ groups,” Budden charges about Joell. “Nobody was waiting on us,” Royce adds with a smile. “Everything that I’ve done outside of Slaughterhouse, I’ve always included Slaughterhouse. In 2018, Royce joined Kxng Crooked as a guest on Joell’s “Timberlan’d Up (Remix).”

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Budden speaks more of the deal that Kxng Crooked presented on behalf of Tony Bucher. “What’s huge to you might not be huge—it’s just selfish,” he states. At 29:30, Royce argues that neither he nor Joe officially turned down that offer. Joe clarifies, “I asked a valid question. See, ’cause that’s the other part that’s getting nixed out of this. Fam, you were trying to sell ownership rights—if my understanding is correct. You were taking some money to sell ownership rights and I just didn’t understand that. I asked the question—a valid question: ‘Hey, why would we do that? Just make it make sense to me.’ I’m selling off some rights for a check, for a ni**a to do what? But I can’t tell somebody else what makes sense and what don’t, but this f*cking disgusting.” Royce later adds that no deal memo was ever provided, despite active conversations. At 32:40, Royce declares, “If you ever wanted [another] Slaughterhouse album, this is the closest that we have ever come to doing it. And everything was going fine, and then, out of nowhere, we get blindsided with this bullsh*t.” Royce also accuses Crooked I and Joell of making a promotional ploy. “It’s a whole staged rollout, brother. The whole thing is staged! It’s like Jussie Smollett. It’s a whole staged narrative with just some small truths to what’s being said. But for the most part, it’s just a whole much of misleading manipulation. It’s based on a lot of old grievances.” Budden responds, “I still don’t know what the beef is. I hear the records, and I still don’t know.” Royce describes why he was uninterested in a three-man Slaughterhouse scenario, and speculates that it created issues between him and Kxng Crooked. Nickel also speaks about concerns some members had doing business with the executive behind the offer. “I’m not with the three-man group idea because that’s not what Slaughterhouse is based on, but I’m also not with anybody coming and telling me, ‘all four of y’all want to rap, but one of y’all I’m not gonna let you rap with this deal; I don’t want [him] to be a part of it because of previous dealings that we had.’ Who would go for that?” Royce adds that Kxng Crooked had told him that Slaughterhouse work would have to follow a solo album that he is recording. Nickel adds that Crooked I no long responded to his texts, calls, or social media exchanges. “Out of nowhere, boom, flaming pig emojis.” At a time when the four founders acquired Slaughterhouse, Royce says he is frustrated with Joell and Kxng Crooked for manipulating the brand—including the burning pig. He argues that it devalues opportunities for the four men had outside of music. “You just took all of the Black ownership out of it,” he charged over compromising the brand for Bucher’s Hitmaka Entertainment. Later in the Live, Royce accuses Bucher of using his playlisting expertise to inflate streaming numbers.

Royce also picks apart a 2019 song Joell Ortiz made and suggests it was an inauthentic cash-grab. “When you do things like that and they don’t work, it’s not anybody’s fault.” He doubles down, “I got nominated for a Grammy because I went and did what was on my heart. If I had went and done Jello, then I might have been in the same predicament as you. To each his own, man.” Royce continues to mock Ortiz’ Salaam Remi collaboration, “Shake Dat J’ello.”

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At 1:02:20 in the video, Joell Ortiz joins the conversation. The exchange is tense from the top, with accusations of lying on both sides. The Brooklyn, New Yorker has a differing opinion of why the recent offer did not transpire. Joe says he never formally passed on the offer. At 1:09:00, Joe Budden raises his voice to say, “Joell Ortiz, you are a f*cking liar!” Joell responds with the same energy, “Y’all out here running around with a wild-ass narrative, lying about me and Crook—like we went and took a bag. Y’all got people out here saying that we did things for a bag; I’ve never done nothing for a bag. Y’all know me better than that! Listen, if anybody’s spinning a narrative, it’s y’all two gentlemen!” He then summarizes, “The bottom line is this: Crooked brought a bag to the table for something y’all ain’t been f*ckin’ with for a long time! Right?” Royce responds, “What gives you the right to tell me what I’m f*ckin’ with? That’s not fair.” As Joe, Joell, and Royce argue, Royce opines, “That’s my issue is: this is about driving traffic to y’all album,” after Ortiz says much will be addressed on March 11’s project. “Why does it have to be at the brand’s expense? Why couldn’t y’all just make another album like y’all did [with] the last one—the H.A.R.D. joint?” Joell responds, “The one that y’all supported?” Royce replies, “I supported it. I didn’t?” Ortiz says, “Did you?” Royce replies, “I support everything you do, Joell. What are you talking about?” In addition to the three-man reunion on Mona Lisa, Royce has appeared on House Slippers and Free Agent. Joell responds, “What are you talking about? I didn’t even get a—listen, it’s not even about that.” As Royce disagrees, Ortiz continues, “What surprises me is how me and Crook are telling the truth about what happened with the group and now all of a sudden we get all the smoke and all the support from y’all that’s never been there.” Budden responds, “Y’all are exploiting, is what you’re doing—and it’s nasty.” Joell raises his voice to disagree.

The conversation moves to Joe calling out Joell Ortiz for misappropriating the Slaughterhouse logo for this month’s album. “Do you know that you and Crook don’t have a logo?” Joe asks flatly. “The pig on fire is your and Crook’s logo, Joell Ortiz.” The two men continue prodding about things, including whether or not the offer was ever turned down by Royce and/or Joe. “Y’all both lying, man,” Ortiz charges.

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At 1:14:50, Joe Budden raises the tensions. “Let me make myself clear: I’m bigger than whatever y’all doing.” “According to who?” Joell replies. “Me,” Joe declares. “Aight, that’s cool. So am I; I’m bigger than everything y’all doing,” Ortiz says. “I’m not responding to this ’cause I feel pressure by your fake, boosted, f*ckin’ numbers,” Budden jabs—referring to the two songs and two episodes. “You’re mad, son. Ni**as is in that inbox, bothering you,” Joell alleges. As things escalate, Joe vents frustration that Joell and Crooked I used Slaughterhouse’s name on their project and says he could take action. “Y’all are disgusting,” he states to Joell and Kxng Crooked, who was active in the IG Live comments by this point. “I love you so much, ni**a, that I don’t even want this nasty f*ck sh*t for you!” Joell argues that he is good and did not need a bag. “You’re not good,” Joe fires back. “You’re making it nastier than it needs to be ’cause y’all are afraid to just be like, ‘I wasn’t f*ckin’ with it.’ Right? You wasn’t f*ckin’ with [the Slaughterhouse offer], right, Joe? It’s fine; it’s all good. And Royce, you wasn’t f*ckin’ with it if Joe wasn’t involved—for whatever reason. And that’s fine, my guy. But let us tell what it is!”

Budden responds, “Let me tell you what it is—’cause I got sh*t to do tonight and it’s a f*ckin’ Friday: Slaughterhouse had bad f*ckin‘ business! You agree?” Joell affirms the statement, adding it was horrible. Joe continues, “At some point, that had to change—for somebody. We were actively in a group, and I was saying—while I was there—’Hey, let’s get this right; the business ain’t right. It’s your manager, his manager, their managers—it’s a f*cking mess’…Joe didn’t want no part of it—Joe didn’t want to no part of a mess. At some point you know better; you do better.” Joell calls the statement truthful. Joe adds, “What I said to y’all was very simple: I’m not doin’ nothing while we’re [at Shady Records]. That was ages ago, Quick.” Joe then brings up the collective efforts to get Slaughterhouse off of Shady and says, “Y’all skipped that in your little cutesy f*cking songs!” He then calls Joell and Crooked liars again, and argues that they were impatient to make this move. “What the f*ck was gonna happen that didn’t happen?” Joell asks, referring to the past year of Slaughterhouse’s independence. “What was about to happen that we f*cked up in this year?” Joe Budden gets up and says he’s done. He tells Joell that he loves him wants only the best for him. “F*ck with the album then, bro,” Ortiz replies. “Tell people to listen to the album, son.” Budden replies, “Joell, that album can suck my d*ck! Are you kidding me?” Joell fires back, “Ni**a, suck my d*ck! Don’t go there; don’t do that!” Budden then asks, “You want me to bring people to this clown-show?” Joell then leaves abruptly after saying, “Yo, Joe…that little comment right there, you’re gonna wish you retracted that one. I’m out, one.” Similar words prompted a December altercation between Bizzy Bone and Juicy J during a Verzuz battle.

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With King Los, Page Kennedy, Angie Martinez, and original Slaughterhouse orchestrator Nino Bless (along with Kxng Crooked) active in the comments, the discussion ended there—for now.

#BonusBeat: A late 2021 What’s The Headline interview with Joell Ortiz (available in video and audio):