Growing up in Detroit has made it possible for Royce Da 5’9 to brace for 2020.
Millions of citizens are finally uncovering the horrific compound of police brutality and systemic racism in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Aubrey. Thanks to the COVID-19 shutdown, there was no avoidance (or shortage) of information fed to phones as it visualized their unconscionable demises.
In the case of Nickel Nine, he’s not only seen it all, he’s documented the harsh realities in all of his eight studio albums. His most recent parable came in the form of February’s heralded The Allegory. His cerebral commentary, while papercut sharp, still had to contend with the unprecedented deaths of Kobe Bryant and Pop Smoke, as well as other Auto-Tuned creampuff ditties.
Needless to say, in today’s chaotic climate, the album is hitting a little different for fans.
In the first installment of HipHopDX’s latest quarantine-controlled interview, Royce was rather forthcoming in admitting his early running days with Eminem opened his eyes to the good side of white people after experiencing so much injustice. As a matter of fact, he remembered the first time he was called the n-word was when he moved into a new neighborhood.
“Well, growing up for me, I moved to a city called Oak Park when I was real young, and it’s basically … 8 Mile separates Oak Park from Detroit,” Royce explained to HipHopDX Editor-In-Chief Trent Clark and Content Coordinator Jeremy Hecht. “So Oak Park kind of is Detroit, but technically it’s not Detroit. It’s a predominantly black city but there’s white people who live there. Especially when I moved there.
“Actually, the first day that I moved there, the very first day, I got called the n-word and that was my first time being called the n-word,” he said before spiraling into a backstory involving his older brother’s peer pressure that is a must-hear soundbite.
And seeing that his history with Eminem runs much longer than the days of cashing industry checks, it was their early rap bond that translated to racial relations.
“When you encounter people … like with me, Em is like … Marshall was like my guy, that I got in my life … that he didn’t seal the deal, but he played a huge role in me not generalizing white people,” he clarified as he went on to detail how his changing his surroundings fully opened his eyes.
“I can imagine if I had just stayed in the environment that I grew up in, and I’d only seen the world through the lens of that environment,” he continued. “Quite naturally, not only would I miss out on certain pieces of development, but it would skew my vision, limit my vision, so to speak. Because a lot of the problems that we’re seeing, though they look like isolated, separate problems, they all somehow crash into each other at some point. They’re all rooted in the same kinds of shit.
“So like, little Jason from 7 Mile, in the hood, that’s kind of like a product of being marginalized and pushed out of some sort of gentrified area … The problem is not only the area, but it’s the mind frame of the people in the area. They’re literally looking at the TV and they’re seeing what they view as success, and they don’t feel connected to it. They view that as like the world, they don’t feel connected to that. They feel outside of the paradigm of everything they see on TV. They look at it as some faraway place, that if you somehow make it to there, then you’re getting away from this.”
Indulge in Part 1 of HipHopDX’s new Royce Da 5’9 interview above and revisit The Allegory below.