Their 2009 self-titled mixtape earned Slaughterhouse the title as four of the most prolific lyricists the rap game has ever seen. Whether you like them personally or not, their music has always been consistent and that cannot be denied. The build up to the release of the new Slaughterhouse album was intense, with critics keeping their eagle eyes firmly locked on every twist and turn of the journey. It seemed every time an official release date was set, the album was delayed yet again. Long time fans were anxious as to whether or not signing to a major was the right move for the group who had already secured a solid underground following. After the album’s August 28th release, the welcome to: OUR HOUSE album debuted at number two in the Billboard charts and as the highest hip-hop in the country. EARMILK talked to one half of the hip-hop supergroup members — Royce Da 5’9 and Joe Budden — about their feelings on the group’s recent triumph.
EARMILK: welcome to: OUR HOUSE managed to hit #2 in the entire country. How did it feel to finally put out the debut album that everyone was waiting for and have it chart so well?
Royce Da 5’9: It felt great. It’s basically a long term goal that got accomplished. The album coming out in itself was just a goal accomplished because that was one of the things that people said wouldn’t happen. First, when there was a rumour out there that we was gonna sign a deal, they were saying "That’s not gonna happen!" So then we signed deals and then they said "Okay. The album’s not gonna come out." We did the album. The album is out. We proved the naysayers wrong. No matter what people think about the album – if they loved it, if they hated it – It’s out. We accomplished a goal and that’s a big milestone in all of our careers. It’s a big stepping stone. It’s a springboard for things to come in the future not only for our solo careers, but for the future of the group. We feel great about it.
EM: Since signing to a major label, people are obviously going to have their opinions about whether or not Slaughterhouse should have remained independent. Do feel it was the best move for the group?
Royce: Oh definitely. I don’t think we would have had the kind of creative control that we have anywhere else. One thing I wanna say about this group is, I feel we kind of locked ourselves into this kind of box, where we’re under so much scrutiny and there’s so many kinds of people and so many kinds of hip-hop. We’ve shown such range in terms of our styles that they have heard that we can all rap, that they feel that "Y’all should just do straight gutter songs" and then you’ve got a DJ who says "All y’all do is gutter songs. You’ve gotta do something the radio can play." In the meantime, we’re stuck in the middle of all of these opinions flying around. So, I felt that the best decision we could make was to go somewhere where we have creative control and we were able to do the kind of music we wanted to do. That’s pretty much what we did. What we did was, we tried to go in there and create music that sounded good, maintained the lyrical integrity, that opened new doors for new fans and then we got music to serve the hardcore underground fans. That was our best foot forward.
EM: What are your personal favourites off the album?
Joe Budden: To be honest with you, that changes for me every five minutes. To me, music is totally contingent on feeling and mood and I think there’s a record on there to satisfy every feeling and mood that I’ve ever encountered since the albums been released. We can go from “Flip A Bird” to “Throw It Away”, “Die”, “Rescue Me” the intro, the outro… There’s too many records. Even the records that at one point during the creative process weren’t some of my favourites have become my favourites. Fans do that a lot too, where they hear a song and they automatically give their impression or opinion of it within five minutes rather than giving the song time to breathe and just settle in and just grow on you. There’s some lines on the album that I didn’t catch until maybe last week. So I don’t think that you can fully digest a record after hearing it for five minutes. To answer your question, I like ‘em all. They’re all my favourites. It’s like picking a favourite child.
EM: You’ve all been through a lot, and you’ve been making music for a while, both as solo artists and as a collective. Do you ever look at the current state of hip-hop and feel that it’s become a space for the young, hipster rappers rather than for more seasoned artists such as yourselves?
Royce: I think it’s both. I think hip-hop itself has kind of carved out a lane for the new hipster movement. All of this is great. As long as hip-hop is evolving and changing into something, that kind of shows it’s gonna stay around. If Jay Z just continued to dominate everything, every year for the next ten years, who knows where it’d be. You gotta remember, rock and roll went away for a second. That couldn’t happen to hip-hop. I pretty much embrace anything new because it’s hip-hop, whether I get involved in it or not. No, I’m not gonna put on a pair of skinny jeans, but I do embrace something new in music. I will continue to do what I do and stay in my lane and just appreciate the balance.
EM: Which new artists are you feeling at moment?
Royce: I like Big Sean. I may be a little biased because we’re from the same neighbourhood. I think he’s improving in leaps and bounds.
JB: Like Royce said, I’m a fan of Big Sean. Kendrick. I’m a fan of all the new guys that are just as passionate about the game as we are and making the best music that they can make. For me, it’s not necessarily about people making the same music. I don’t always wanna hear people that are a lyrical as we are. I hear people who do some things differently and may be better than I am, like Waka. I’m just a fan of too many different people. We’d be here all day.
EM: How do you manage to stay friends and keep the business going?
Royce: That’s kind of like the easy part. We’ve pretty much got four real guys. Everybody’s giving each other respect. That’s pretty much it. The respect pretty much outweighs everything. It outweighs the competitive nature. I have disagreements with my wife. I disagree with my son. So of course we have disagreements. It wouldn’t even be right if we didn’t. It would be too mechanical. It’s a family so it’s easy to me. I’ve never really had an explanation for that one.
JB: I always say, if two people always agree 100% of the time then one of them is not being themselves.
EM: Nowadays, do you feel fans buy more into an artist’s personal life than they do the actual music?
JB: Some of them do. Everybody in this universe is unique. Some fans are into the numbers. Some fans are more into the production. Some fans are more into the personality of the artist and just really give a f*ck about the music.
EM: Do you feel there’s more pressure to give more of yourself on a personal level now than maybe five years ago?
JB: I might be the wrong person to answer that because it’s always been personal for me. (Laughs)
Royce: Speaking for myself, I’ve just recently started giving a little bit more of me to people. I’ve never been one to make my life an open book. I’ve always been a real private guy. With the amount of success that I’ve achieved over the last two years, people have really been invading my privacy and I’ve kind of been forced to show my hands. So this year, it’s a little bit difficult for me to do just because I’m private. I don’t really like to be under the microscope. I wanna achieve success but I don’t wanna a lot of what goes along with it.
EM: Do you think that’s possible?
Royce: It may not be. I don’t know.
EM: What’s coming next from Slaughterhouse?
JB: I know I was just speaking to somebody from the label yesterday saying I’m ready to start tossing around some ideas for the new one. Ideas. I don’t want anybody to start opening budgets or cuttin’ checks but with guys as great as these guys are, those juices are constantly running, so because we’ve just released an album, those ideas don’t stop flowing. Album release week was a really, really, really emotional week. It’s been a really, really emotional time for me going through a relapse and then recovering again. I have so many new things to talk about and I’m seeing so many things differently. I can’t wait to record and just rap and I feel like I’m going on a whole other gear in my career.
EM: When you say it was an "emotional week," did it put you in a good place emotionally or was it mixed?
Royce: It was a little bit mixed for me. Mostly good. I had a lot of concerns, when you put so much into something. I’m one of those people that put everything I have into what I’m doing and it has to work. I’m not one of those people who have to think of a plan B. My plan B in whatever I do in life has always been to complete plan A. My plan A was on the table, then when it came out, #1 hip-hop album in the country, it was kind of a weight off my shoulder.
I’m not one of those people who have to think of a plan B. My plan B in whatever I do in life has always been to complete plan A.