Slaughterhouse is made up of a grouping of what may have been, in the past, incredibly talented hip-hop artists that had excelled at their craft, but may have fallen a little short of achieving the most supreme levels of commercial success and independence.
Crooked I, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Royce da 5'9" (the latter being a Detroit guy, born and bread) are all truly, truly talented artists. Having achieved massive levels of respect from their peers in the industry, they've each run into their share of controversy or mismanaged relationships with other performers in the industry. That, however, did not stop them from joining forces in 2008 and releasing their self-titled debut album the following year. Egos and individual gains aside, they managed to produce a work of modern hip-hop that showcased each of their individual styles and abilities while still maintaining a superb collective and cohesive sound.
"Everybody's ego-driven to a degree," says Royce, "but everybody [in Slaughterhouse] sets that aside. There's more respect than there is ego."
Asking any accomplished artist to set aside their personal objectives and accomplishments for the betterment of the group is typically where most supergroups fall apart. Nevermind the genre, the fact that it is inherent in humans to be self-serving and primarily focused on their own objectives is what has led to many a downfall within the music industry. But the fact remains that the four dudes in Slaughterhouse are completely focused on putting together a cohesive and ultimately mind-shattering album – and with the recent release of welcome to: OUR HOUSE, they've actually managed to do it – it's really just beyond reasonable comprehension.
"It's not a competitive thing, either," Royce explains. "In the studio, you bring your A-game because of the guys you're working with. There's never been a bad studio session, never an argument, never a bad moment."
Royce talks with such confidence and assurance that you can't help but believe the guy. Looking at his track record, it's undeniable that he's an incredibly talented artist – and considering he's worked with the best in the industry (his sophomore collab album with Eminem, Bad Meets Evil: The Sequel, debuted at the top spot on the Billboard 200 back in June of last year) – that's no small compliment. It is also that very same artist, Marshall Mathers, whose Shady Records label is the fortunate benefactor that Slaughterhouse is currently signed to – and if you think for a moment that Eminem would sign a group of artists to his highly-successful business that weren't worthy, you're fooling yourself.
Royce's praise and confidence in Slaughterhouse is nothing short of the most genuine pride and appreciation for who he's working alongside, in addition to the finished product that they have been able to create. "I have so much fun," he says. "Those dudes are so funny, and they're so talented. I'm almost bored doing my solo shit now. When I'm on stage by myself, it almost feels like something's missing."
The bond and mutual appreciation that Slaughterhouse have built together should both come as a pleasant surprise as well as a slight relief – the former because, let's face it, these are four dudes that are good enough on their own that they didn't have to team up with anyone. And the relief of it all is that – holy shit – this is one hell of an album. With guest spots from Busta Rhymes, Eminem, Swiss Beatz, Cee Lo Green and more, it's obviously packed full of superstardom. But not only that, each of the four unique personalities and styles within Slaughter House itself is allowed to shine – from Crooked I's rapid release to Budden's elongated delivery, the undeniably Brooklyn stylings of Ortiz and vicious yet structurally complex work of Royce – it's all there, entirely showcased on what is, without a doubt, one of the shining stars in musical releases for 2012.
So, if your only concern at this point is when, as all good things do, will this wondrous foursome come to an end, we have some good news for you. "They make me want to continue to rap," says Royce. "They're very self-motivated – it's incredible. As long as people want to hear it, I'm down to do it." | RDW
slaughterhouse record release • 8/30, 7:30 p.m. • royal oak music theatre • 248.399.2980 • romtlive.com • $20 ga/$25 dos