Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5’9, Crooked I and Joe Budden are all established as being lyrical monsters, but as individual artists they haven’t been able to showcase the talent that is clearly evident. As a result, the four have decided to join forces and become the four-headed monster known as Slaughterhouse. As a single entity, the group has proven that they are not to be taken lightly and labels missed out on what they have to deliver. With the release of their self-titled album on August 11, HipHopWired.com was able to catch up with 3/4’s of the group to discuss bringing back the art of lyricism, going against the grain and choosing not to live by the industry’s standards and how being fans of the art has kept them in it even with the problems they have faced. This is Slaughterhouse.
HipHopWired: What revolution are you trying to bring in? Crooked said there are too many Indians and not enough chiefs?
Royce: People are following now. I got a lot of people paying attention to me now because I stand next to these guys. I think it’s just the whole movement that they’re looking at now and I think that is going to reflect on our solo projects too because every release is going to be like another release with Slaughterhouse.
Ortiz: I think the fans of true Hip-Hop are following what they want to follow, which is us. I think aspiring artists and the ones that are fairly new will be following the non-followers because that’s what we are. We’re not textbook and we don’t play by the rules that everybody else plays by. We just do what the fu&% we do and have fun doing it.
Budden: I don’t know and I don’t care. I know if we do one thing, it will take care of several other things. I know if we keep the focus and worry about making great records, being the great lyricists that we are and meshing together as a group, that will take care of everything else. This genre is a package-riding genre so I could have told you when we formed Slaughterhouse that you would see knock-offs and ni**as trying to emulate something. On one hand I want to diss them all and on the other hand I’m flattered and it’s a compliment.
HipHopWired: Clearly, you guys have the lyrical ability to be given the title MC. Can you define a rapper and an MC?
Royce: Well, I don’t think that people expect as much from a rapper. An MC is basically everything that Slaughterhouse is doing. There’s a lot of sh*& that gets put out today, in today’s climate, which DJs support because they don’t expect anything. They say things like, “We bangin this sh&* right now and this is poppin,” because the sh%^ got a dance attached to it or they swaggin it out or whatever they’re doing. I like some of that sh&% too though because I don’t expect them to do what I expect Joell Ortiz to do. It’s not even because I’m biased towards one way or another, it’s just some people were put into the game to do certain things and others were put in to do other things. The MC is put on more of a lyrical pedestal and more is expected of them. The rapper is just expected to make songs.
Ortiz: I agree with Royce, but I do feel like the MC and the rapper are the same thing. The MC is just the rapper on crack. It’s like basketball where you got the ni**as that are role playing in the fact that they’re cool, they made the squad and they got a deal. They might look like something and sound like something, but they’re not all-stars every year. With an MC, you’re excited…cause you know that at any given time, he can take over the game. Rappers are just rappers and they’re cool. A rapper might have a hot verse just like a basketball player might have 25, but he only averages 12. When you’re dealing with MCs, they’re doing 30 and 10 every night. MCs are all-stars and rappers are role players.
HipHopWired: In the art of competition do you think any group can stand bar for bar and leave the Slaughterhouse alive?
Slaughterhouse: No, not at all. You would be nowhere close to being alive…mutilated, demolished, and unidentified.
HipHopWired: With tracks such as “Cuckoo” and “Fight Klub” where you step away from the general format, do you believe that madness on a track can establish a new order?
Royce: I think that we definitely wanted to make an album. I think people expected us to come together and do a collage of bullsh$%. When you go in to do an album, it’s different from a mixtape or leaking some sh&^ to the net. There can be no rules on some songs, but at the end of the day we are all songwriters. It’s not like we just started fu%$ing around. We approached it the way that we approach our own sh%$ except as a group. “Cuckoo” is just a different kind of beat. We all thought that the sh&% was cuckoo, which was one of the first words that got thrown into the air when the beat came on. We were just doing it track for track and whatever mind frame that beat put us in, that’s what we did.
Ortiz: This is the fu$^ing Slaughterhouse. Ain’t nothing textbook about us. We’re dealing with four muthafu&%ing scientists when it comes to music so it’s whatever the fu%& we come up with and whatever the vibe sound like. We aren’t aiming anything at the radio and we’re not sitting down saying this is what we have to do. We feel the beats out, we write the records and they come out the way that they come out. When “Cuckoo” came out and the sounds were all over the place and the bass was booming and just sounding crazy, we came out with the content and we let it fly and that was just it.
HipHopWired: Do any of you have a particular standout record for the album?
Budden: Nah, I like ‘em all equally. They’re so different and this is such a new experience and I was just learning and watching and observing so I don’t have a song that I like more so than any other song. I like them all for different reasons.
Ortiz: Same here. Every time I listen to the album, I get a new favorite song depending on how the fu&% I feel. It’s just a great album, man. I always answer that question as a fan and I just think it’s a really dope album and there are going to be a bunch of favorites. I look at the Twitter and Web site comments and every 1 of the 15 songs has been somebody’s favorite song. It’s one of those albums and it gets better with every listen.
HipHopWired: What’s a studio session like? Have any of y’all ever had to go back over your verse after hearing everybody else?
Royce: I re-write when I really don’t like the way my verse came out, for me. I don’t really pit my verses against their verses. That’s too much to put on yourself mentally. When you try to create, you need to have your mind as free as possible. You can’t create properly going into the studio with concern and that’s all I would be every time is concerned like you hope your verse is going to be better, but sh%& everybody catches it if they’re in that zone. With me, I change my verses for my own sh*^. I might live with it for awhile and be like Imma change this and change that. I do that the same way in the group. I don’t change it because I think that someone’s verse is better because when a ni**a is gonna shine on the song he is just gonna shine.
Ortiz: I don’t think none of us sit there and stress ourselves out worrying if someone is going to get us on this beat or feel like you should have went at the record that way and lost. We just make records and that’s just it. We’re all dope so if somebody edges someone out they’re not going to body them in the eyes of the fan. We don’t stress each other out, but we have friendly sh@% like, ‘Oh, you caught that one.’ Nobody is re-writing because of somebody else’s verse. The re-writing process is just to better the song and that’s it.
HipHopWired: Do y’all feel as though some things need to be ushered in and others need to be booted the fu%$ out in Hip-Hop?
Ortiz: I don’t think anything needs to be ushered in or kicked out. Hip-Hop is Hip-Hop and we are already dope, but we sound even doper when ni**as are wack so we need wack ni**as to be honest with you. I don’t want to take food out of nobody’s mouth because of what they talk about. They have their own audience and we have ours. They know not to come into our realm and we damn sure don’t do what they do. Slaughterhouse is about to do what we do whether people come in or they exit so we don’t really pay attention to what’s going on because that’s just not what we do. We make our music, stay in our lane, which is any fu&%ing lane we decide to pick, and we dominate it. That’s it.
Royce: I don’t think the Auto-Tune or nothing like that needs to be completely booted. I think all of that sh*^ is Hip-Hop, but I think it could be a lot better and move forward a lot more positively if it was more of a balance. What happens a lot in Hip-Hop is they take one thing and they over-saturate the game with it and I think that’s all Jay-Z was saying. I don’t think he was just saying get rid of Auto-Tune or dissing Kanye because that’s his man. I think he likes when Kanye does it and the other people that are successful with it. It’s just all these other people that say that this is the key to success so let’s all do it and even do it the exact same way that these ni**as are doing it and then it starts to get competitive and its all that the new breed of people hear and they think that’s what Hip-Hop is. It kind of drowns out other avenues in Hip-Hop. I think we can have more balance without getting rid of anything and without ushering anything in because all of the elements are there, but certain elements just get drowned out with bullsh&%.
Budden: I’mma keep mine short and sweet. I think the whimsical fan needs to be ushered out and artist development needs to be ushered back in.
HipHopWired: We spoke with Sheek Louch and he said that the brotherhood between him Jada and P have helped them maintain as a group? Do you agree that a relationship outside of the music is necessary before business can even happen?
Budden: If there was no relationship outside of the music then I don’t think that there would be a relationship, period. I wanted to make something evolve with four guys who I got along with, who I would be able to be away from home for months at a time with, who I could speak to with any type of problem, not just music. As far as that goes, I don’t think there would have been any business involving Joe Budden without there being a strong bond and union and brotherhood. All those things are extremely important.
HipHopWired: Since you have all been through your own trials, and Crooked released a song titled “If You Ever Hear Me,” was there ever a point where you were like fu#^ it, “I’m done with the rap sh@%?”
Budden: I know I was like that about 4 or 5 years ago when I was sitting at Def Jam just collecting dust. I felt like the music was getting better and my ability was getting better, but I didn’t have the outlet to actually release the music so it got frustrating for me. But quitters never win and I have gotten over way worse so I had to keep pushing.
Royce: With me, there were times in my career where I know people thought that I should quit and be ready to throw in the towel, but in my own mind I think I’m kind of fu$@ed up because it was like I was invisible at those times, but around those times you couldn’t tell me that I was nobody. Maybe I’m just strong or ego-driven, but whatever I am, whether that be a good thing or a bad thing, it helped me to get to this point and rebuild. It kind of helped to revive everything in my career and helped turn everything around.
Ortiz: Yeah, that’s sounds like me about ten to twenty times a year. I get those days man, you know what I’m saying? The artists life has its up and downs, the good news and bad news, what you could have did, what you shouldn’t have said. There’s just a whole bunch of sh&% that makes you get tired. All of that sh&% is a bluff because I don’t think any of my group members, my friends, could quit if we wanted to. We love this sh$% too much. So, it’s just an emotion for a moment and then we snap out of it and then we tear into ni**as again.
HipHopWired: With the release of The Revival EP and The Escape Route EP, when should we be expecting a release from you Joell?
Ortiz: I really don’t know yet. If it had to go in tomorrow, it could. Nothing will be sporadic when dealing with anything Slaughterhouse. It will all be in sequence; it will all be timed. We’re not one of those groups to just put things out and it’s all going to be thought out and planned and we’re going to make sure that in 2010, people are going to be talking about us.
HipHipWired: Joell, you stated that above all else you guys are fans of music. Is it that mentality which helps to separate y’all from the rest of the rappers out there now and stand above them?
Ortiz: I think we stand above everyone else because we’re better than everyone else. Not to sound conceited or anything, but I just think that we’re iller than everybody else. I do think that us being fans of one another is kind of ill. Prior to me meeting Royce, “Boom” definitely was one of my favorite records ever and I enjoyed performing that sh%$ with him. “Jumpoff” has been destroying ni**as forever and Crooked, I just got wind of him, but I became an instant fan of him. I think that everyone in the studio is a fan of one another. Not only are we putting verses and songs together, but we’re also in awe of the way that we are collaborating. I think that us being fans of each other is helping us out, but we’re just naturally better than ni**as and we just let the music talk.
Royce: I Agree.
Budden: You bodied that.