I was reading an editorial in regards to Koch on DX, and they said you guys were key elements in the label reemerging back on solid ground. How responsible are you guys for Koch coming back?
Joell: I don’t know how to answer that one. You have to ask Koch that one. I know me alongside the other three members of Slaughterhouse felt like we were going to be a successful group. I mean success is always good for a label. I mean, if that’s what they were looking for-- a quick success with followers, and stability, we’re happy to provide that.
Royce: I just think as a group, we just try to do the best we can. You know no matter where we’re at we play serious. We bring our A game all across the board. If we were instrumental in anything as far as helping Koch move forward as a company, and to have that stigma attached to us is good.
The album was well-received by fans and critics alike. As much as they enjoyed the lyricism, and punchlines, they would have liked more conceptual records? Do you feel that was a fair assessment?
Royce: It’s an opinion. Everybody is entitled to one. I mean it depends. It depends on what type of album you like. A lot of people felt like we had too many concepts. Some people didn’t want us to have hooks. It’s a not thing we take in, and are like “We have to just go in on the next album.” We accept the creative criticism though.
Do you ever feel fans are too needy in terms of what they want musically?
Crooked: I do, but it ain’t a knock on the fans, because I’m a fan myself. It’s just that sometimes, I even find myself trying to find 20 songs I like, and I just heard 20 songs yesterday. (laughs) Back in the day, your favorite artists used to drop a record, and then 12 months later, they would drop another one. If he was featured on something in between then, we had to cop the whole album he was featured on just to hear him spit that whole verse. In my case, I put a song out every week for a whole year, and the fans still said thought that wasn’t enough. (laughs)
I noticed with you guys, the records you’ve released prior to the album, had more of a competitive feel as if you guys were trying to top each other, or go at each other’s head. With the album, how did you guys change that mindset to become more conducive?
Joell: I don’t think we were going at each other’s heads. I think we were all excited about each of us standing next to three different artists who we felt can each give something to the table individually. You might of felt like we were competing with each other on the records, but we were just excited. We don’t compete with each other. We might go ahead and joke around, but it never leaves that element of fun. It’s never about outdoing each other. If anything, we all felt relieved to be next to three emcees of that caliber because it took all the pressure off us individually. It was way more fun doing the Slaughterhouse shit than it was doing any Joell Ortiz album because I didn’t have to pick my brain as much.
Royce: Yeah and we were all on the same agenda too man. We all have the same goals. We all want the same thing out of this shit man. Even going back to the fans criticism, I don’t think people realize the kind of pressure that we were under, and how we stepped up to make that album. We did the album in six days. We didn’t have a huge budget where time was of the essence. They wanted to get the album done and out by a certain date. We had to get it done by a certain amount of time, and we did that. You could criticize, and say whatever you want, but compare it to something.
Speaking along the lines of competition, I wanted to know since you guys are very competitive; I wanted to know if you guys were able to do the footrace over, including all four of you guys. Who would take it?
Joell: I don’t know man. I just know that nigga Joe Buddens won by one human leg. (Laughs) If I was fucking 40 pounds lighter, and not drunk, I would have dusted his ass. (laughs)
I heard you guys already started making wagers on Madden. Can you tell the fans about that story?
Joell: We were just having fun on the bus man. (laughs)
Royce: We’re not saying we’re not competitive dudes. What Joell is saying is that when we get in the lab it’s no pressure because if Crooked kills it, it’s a win-win. If Joell comes out with the best verse, which has happened every other day, that makes for a great song. As long as nobody comes wack next to his ill ass verse, we’re making great records.
Crooked: Yeah, dog, because if it was competition, we’d keep killing each other. (laughs)
I understand, but in the spirit of competition, let’s just say you four were able to compete in dancing with the stars, who would take it and why?
Royce: I don’t know. I know I wouldn’t. I can’t dance. I’m stiff with it man. I can’t dance at all.
Crooked: I don’t dance. I two-step. (laughs)
Royce: Exactly. I guess it would be the one who’s the most competitive with his feet, and that ain’t me. You guessed it. I accepted that, and realized there’s some shit I can’t do. (laughs)
Joell: I guess I’d go pretty far, but it would all depend on my partner too. If you give me a fat bitch we ain’t going to win. (laughs)
Royce: You gotta give him that fly petite bitch that he’ll really like.
Joell: Yeah something I could lift over my head, and twirl around my finger.
You guys are known as the Four Voltron crew, but let’s say an artist was interested in joining the group. What credentials would he need?
Royce: I would say he couldn’t join. I would say he couldn’t. This shit is like a strategically built together puzzle. The puzzle could only fit four pieces. I mean you can‘t set no puzzle piece on top of the puzzle. You can’t stand the puzzle piece next to the puzzle. It just works man. There’s a lot that goes with it more than just good MC’s. There’s some good MC’s out there. We’re not saying we’re dope and everybody else is wack. There’s a lot of ill MC’s out there, but our personalities mesh. It works all across the board. There’s way more to it than just finding some niggas that could rap. You gotta find the right personality. We would have to find all the right personalities to offset Joey’s personality. I already think we got that.
Joell: To add on to that; when you had Dream Team One, it worked because you had the all-stars, the personalities, and the team leaders that worked. You had a lot of United States teams that didn’t win, but probably had the most talent, and it didn’t work. We don’t want to add any other element, and take any away. It’s a four man group. We’re the Four Voltrons. We got the arms, the legs, the torsos, and the head. After that, we’ll leave it alone because that’s all we need.
Ok, but let’s say hypothetically speaking that you guys had to pick one person, but he had to be from the south, who would it be and why?
Crooked: A lot of fair choices.
Royce: There’s a lot of niggaz from the South that can spit. If I want just straight up lyricism, then it would have to be a T.I. or a Lil’ Wayne. If I wanted to go based off of Ol’ G status, and who I personally like, I would say Bun B. I mean he supports niggas. He’s been supporting niggaz’ since day one. He’s a real nigga, not to say Lil Wayne or T.I. aren’t, but like I said, to me, there’s just more that goes into just straight up spitting. Yeah Lil Wayne and them niggas could spit.
Joell: I could agree with that list. I would definitely toss in Ludacris into that equation.
Crooked: If you want to talk about dudes who attack the mic, I have to holla at Killer Mike. I would have Bun B, and Scarface of course.
Joell: Don’t forget 3 Stacks. [Andre 3000]
Royce: There’s some people out there man. There’s some people. I would also have to Stat Quo. I fucks with Stat. He’s dope.
Speaking of southern music, Joell, what’s this I hear about having a thing to dancing to Hurricane’s Chris’ Halle Berry in the studio?
Joell: Man after 70 or so drinks, I’ll do any god damn thing. (Laughs)
Joell: Put it like this, a Slaughterhouse session is anything but stiff. I don’t be knowing what the fuck is going on. Have some alcohol, put some beats on, and we’ll be having a got damn ball. I told you, I’ll two-step or do whatever.
You know what’s funny? The thing about dance music is that it has always been there in hip-hop. Why do you think people are making such of a spectacle now?
Crooked: I think everybody is making a spectacle of it now because some of the people creating the dance songs are in the forefront where people like Rakim, and Kool G [Rap] were originally the ones putting it in on the concepts, the productions, the mic, and the quality. That just stopped becoming the main feature in hip-hop. It all stopped when somebody came and made up a dance. I just think it was all an evolution thing that people were trying to react to. It’s kind of hard for a certain generation in hip-hop to accept that change.
I know you guys are parents, and I’m curious, what’s your view on skinny jeans, and the trends from a parent’s standpoint?
Joell: Man, I don’t know about the whole skinny jeans thing, but I remember when we had the album release party last week at the Canal Room, and I went to the crib. I got inside, and I saw my son had a Mohawk. I said to his mother, “What the hell are you doing giving your son a Mohawk?” (Laughs) She said “Oh, it looks cute.” Man, I went and dropped his ass to get a Caesar immediately.
Royce: Yeah I gotta speak on that. I’m real serious in that area. I’m not going to allow my son to not cool be with my daughter. I’m the type of parent that’s going to be in control until they’re out of my house. So they’re going to dress how I say. I’m up on the fashion. I’m not an old parent. If that shit seems like it’s cool, we’re not rocking with that, and that’s it. You could look cool like me, and I’m as cool as everybody in your school.
Most def. As you guys are rappers, and parents, you guys are also students of the game. Who have you guys enjoyed performing at Rock The Bells?
Royce: Man, I gotta go with Busta.
Joell: I was thinking that.
Royce: Busta kills it every night.
Crooked: Busta Kills it. Tech N9ne always kills it.
Joell: Tech N9ne is a beast too. That was the first time I’ve seen Tech N9ne rock the stage, and my oh my, it’s retarded.
Royce: Yeah. Tech Nine & Busta Rhymes were the highlights of the tour to me.
When all four of you rock the stage together, is it like mayhem?
Royce: You know why I’m not a madman. It’s because I get to chill. When I get up there with Joell, dog, I don’t even feel like I need to get real hype. It’s like if there’s four niggas up there, why try to out hype each other? Once Joell gets in there; because I trust how well he could perform, I know I could just chill. I do my verses, and I know he’s going to adlib mine and everybody else. (laughs). It’s the same way with the writing process. When you go in there, you don’t have to stress yourself out because you know them niggas are going to carry the rest of that song.
Joell: You know, our shows have been dope due to the fans being so excited. The fans have made it good for someone like me, Joe, Crooked, or Royce because they’re showing love. I was looking over at the crowd, and the places we’ve been, before this, we wouldn’t have thought that these places would have been a great market for us. It’s been really surprising. The fans are really participating in the shows as much as we are.
Crooked: Word. I’m going to tell you something Carl. It’s something special when you find that one fan that has always been a fan of Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, Royce, and Crooked individually. We’ve been able to expose each other to each other’s fan base; You know, some dudes might not have know about me, but they know Joell, and they just got put on to me. When you find that one dude who’s always been a fan of all four of us, and they see us on stage together, the energy that dude got, is enough to light up a million light bulbs. That’s always something good for me to see. When they just come up to us, and say “Yo we’re a fan of all of yall”, that’s just a climatic thing for us man.
Sounds like you guys have a ball together, but if you had to pick one, what's the worst part about traveling together?
Royce: Shit there isn’t nothing really bad about traveling together. I mean we have fun on the bus. You know we were on a plane, and we all sat next to each other because we had the middle row on it. It was all good. You know when we’re on the bus, we have a ball. Go watch that clip. If you watch that clip when that lady hit our bus, niggas were just clowning. Sometimes we’ll get drunk together. Sometimes we’ll crack jokes together. Sometimes niggas just be tired, and we’re off to our bunks. I ain’t have no bad experiences.
Crooked: I second that.
Since you guys do like to have fun a lot, do you feel rappers take the game too serious, resulting in their quality of music not being as good?
Royce: Yeah. I think niggas are running around too much acting too hard. They just need to smile more. Relax. Jesus, what are you so angry about? There’s a lot of anger in niggas. That’s why we just always try to have fun. At the end of the day, this shit isn’t guaranteed to anybody man. We’re blessed to be in this position. We just enjoy it man. We just try to stay humble, make good decisions, and have fun.
Joell: You know me personally, I come from poverty. I don’t want to get into the generic story or whatever but you know the deal--having the single parent, moms on drugs, pops not there, and me in the streets. I mean this shit saved my life. I mean even if a bad experience on the road, which hasn’t happened yet—knock on wood—this shit is worth more than the shit I’ve seen. So I say my prayers when I wake up. I thank the lord that I’m on stage to earn money, and provide for my family by making words rhyme because he gave me that gift. To me, it’s not bad. As far as things are traveling with the brothers, there’s nothing wrong. The only thing that is fucked up is when these niggas shit on the bus. (laughs)
If the Hip-Hop industry spiraled, and no longer existed, what would you be doing now, and why?
Royce: Man, I’m sure I’d be doing something very well. Listen man, when I put my mind to something, I can’t stop it until I’m good at it. That’s a good question though, because I started in the game real young. I never had the chance to explore all those other options. That’s a good question. I don’t know.
Joell: I’d probably be an actor. I’m definitely in love with the crowd. I think God definitely made me to be in front of people whether it be making them laugh or clap. I’m a very loud person, and I’m an entertainer on many levels. My career would still be in front of cameras or of some sort. I like acting. I like being the center of attention.
Royce: Man, if hip-hop fell off, I’d probably be the leader of a gang.
Royce: I could run a drug cartel man.
Crooked: Damn, I really don’t know man. It’s not like I’m going to go get a PH. D now. (laughs)But listen, to all the kids out there, all of you guys reading this interview, I say stay in school. I say have goals. I say go on and get it. Me personally, I’m not flipping no burgers, I’m not going to school for eight years. I’m going back to the streets. I’m just going to be rolling the dice man. I mean there’s so many things you could do too. This game taught us how to be businessmen. I think no matter where you put me; I’m going to get it. You could put me in Ohio, and in six months, I’ll be cracking in Ohio. I’ll be popping in Ohio. On a street level, I learned the hustle from this game. It taught me how to go out of town, and run an independent label. It taught me how to write songs for people. It taught me to do whatever you can to stay afloat until you dreams become reality.
Joe: I’d be a lawyer by the way.
Oh wow. Joe welcome aboard. (laughs)
Why would you be a lawyer?
Joe: I just love arguing with people.
Since you guys are always providing entertainment inside and outside of records, If VH-1 decided to give you guys the chance to do a reality show would you?
Joe: Hell yeah.
Royce: As long as it’s with Joey, Joell and Crooked.
Royce: That reality show would just be one long laugh.
Speaking of laughs, I was listening to the “Cuckoo” record. Royce if you wasn’t married, what’s the likelihood you taking down Keyshia’s Coles mom?
Royce: I wouldn’t want to answer that question man. I was just joking in that line by the way.
Speaking of moms, do you any of you guys have favorite your mama jokes you guys use?
Royce: Nah we don’t play like that. (Laughs) That’s why we’re such good friends. Nobody crosses each other’s lines.
That’s cool. You know basketball is very much intertwined in hip-hop. If you guys were able to choose one player whose style fits you the most, who would it be and why?
Crooked: Me personally, Kobe Bryant. (Laughs)
Crooked: He just comes through with style and grace nah mean? He could see the whole court. He got the offense. He got the defense. He could score at will. That’s Crooked right there when he steps into the booth. You know man, 24, Black Mamba shit.
Royce: I gotta go with Chris Paul for myself because you know he’s a technician. He’s technical, and he has a lot of leadership quality. He could put a lot on his shoulders. He’ll get you that W. So I gotta go with my nigga Chris Paul.
Joe: I’d probably go with Brandon Roy because he’s better than majority of the players in the league, but people don’t know it yet.
Joell: I’d probably be Shaq. He’s a clown. He enjoys being funny and playing jokes. He’s real dominant with the ball on both ends of the court.
Let’s steer back in the music aspect real quick. The internet has helped you guys significantly individually, how would you say it has helped contribute to your success as a group.
Joell: In every way possible man. I mean opening up each other’s individual fan base is big. Peaking in behind the scenes for sales for things like I-Tunes, which should be in at the end of the week is huge. It’s a big place for advertisement, and promotion.
Royce: I know there was a point in my career where I was going to direct my career by being more internet savvy, and just market through internet. I think if I didn’t make that decision, I would have never been in the group. I wouldn’t even know too much about this niggas. If I would have just relied on Detroit radio or mixtapes, it wouldn’t’ have happened. Your whole campaign can be an internet campaign, and help you sell records.
Joe: I agree with Royce. I owe a majority of the group success as well as my solo success to the internet. It helped me be savvy and aware of what’s going on. It helped me be real big on the media as a whole.
Joe, I noticed a while ago that the fans had voted you and 50 among the top twp emcees as far as MTV’s Who’s The Hottest In The Game Right Now? What do you accredit that too?
Joe: I mean, honestly, my 100 percent focus is on Slaughterhouse, and on that album. I mean it’s flattering. I’ve heard about it. If I’m anywhere on the list, I think it should be accredited to the fans and how hard they go. It’ll really say something for their voting being accounted for something nowadays. As for me, I’m on the grind. We grinding. It’s time for work. Hard work pays off.
At the end of the day, to sum this long day up, how far do you guys think Slaughterhouse can go?
Joell: All the way!!!! (laughs)
Royce: Wherever the top is. Shit look up. (laughs)
Joe: That was funny.
Royce: Pick a fucking cloud to sit on.