STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
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Royce da 5’9” has certainly tasted the big time via his Bad Meets Evil collaboration with fellow Detroit rapper Eminem, his all-star collaborations in Slaughterhouse and PRhyme, and his leading role in the 2014 anthem “Detroit vs. Everybody.”
But having “Layers” become his first solo album to hit No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts last month was a particularly sweet achievement.
“It’s very surreal,” Royce (real name Ryan Montgomery) says by phone. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s obviously been a long process. And it’s very fulfilling. I feel like it’s just the result of hard work, and the fact that we do everything independently just adds another layer to it.
“So yeah, it just feels good.”
Royce performs on Thursday, June 9 at The Underground Arts, Philadelphia.
As Royce notes, “Layers” is his sixth album in a career that’s been marked by a short incarceration in 2005, feuds with D-12 and Eminem, and substance issues. All that is in the past now; Royce is clean and sober for many years, and that’s allowed him to stay busier and be more creative than ever.
“Right now I feel I’m in control and see everything as it’s happening,” he explains. “At the beginning I decided to be drunk all the time; I’d check out at 7 or 8 in the evening and be like, ‘I’m drunk. How can I handle anything?’
“Now I’m 100 percent prepared to handle things as they come to me. I’m alert 24 hours a day and ready for any pace that things come at me.”
They’re certainly coming fast now. With “Layers” out, Royce, 38, is focusing on touring but also other projects: a second PRhyme album with DJ Premier that’s slated to come out by the end of the year; a new Slaughterhouse album in the can and waiting for its release date; and yet another solo album, “The Book of Ryan,” that he describes as “more personal” and introspective than some of his other work and will come out “at the right time.”
“I feel like I’m at a point where I’m actually getting out of it what I’m putting into it and getting out of it exactly what I want,” the Farmington resident says. “When I do get in the studio I just record as much as possible and that way I’m ahead of the curve.
“They’re all fun things to do. I just want to keep creating those memories and take a lot of pictures and have stories I can tell my kids and grandkids. That’s what it’s all about for me now.”