From the first moment Detroit rapper Royce da 5'9" met Eminem — "a skinny white kid pushing mixtapes" at an Usher gig in 1997 — he saw the potential in him.
"I remember just feeling like this guy, he can definitely be something. I want to work with somebody; I want to work with him. I can learn something from him, " Royce, whose real name is Ryan Montgomery, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
Royce says they've both evolved in the 14 years that have passed. The pair had a falling out and feuded for a while, but now are so tight they put out a successful joint album, "Hell: The Sequel," over the summer as Bad Meets Evil. And the iconic rapper has given Royce plenty of grown-up advice as his success grows, with his recently released third studio album, "Success Is Certain," and work on new material with his group Slaughterhouse (Joe Budden, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz).
"He's a lot different, a lot more mature, but still the same funny guy, still the same sense of humor. He's just an adult now and so am I," he said of Eminem.
The 34-year-old Royce talked about their relationship, his own growing pains and his bond with his 13-year-old son in a recent interview.
AP: How did you sort out your feud with Eminem?
Royce da 5'9": It kind of sorted itself out. A lot things transpire, time heals everything. It wasn't anything that he did to me or anything, or anything that I did to him .... We just kind of grew apart at that moment. There was lot going on, a lot of money got thrown into the middle, a lot of other people involved. I think once we lost Proof (the rapper was killed in 2006), the D12 guys were real instrumental in kind of bringing us back together. They always knew how close we were. And once I squashed the beef with them, they were real verbal with going to him and saying "Look, we're not beefing with Royce no more, there's not a problem anymore." And I think just one day he just decided he was going to call me, so he called me and we been back at it ever since.
AP: Your last album, "Death Is Certain" was a very dark album. What are you rapping about now?
Royce da 5'9": With the "Death Is Certain" album, I spoke about a lot of the mistakes I was making, like the dark cloud that I felt was hovering over my head. Failure, negativity, beef, and this album is you know, looking back ... and reflecting on that; speaking of triumph, overcoming adversity, leaping over hurdles. I still try to maintain the dark feel sonically, but content-wise, I just wanted to make it a little bit brighter.
AP: The album seems to have a more positive feel to it.
Royce da 5'9": It just came natural because I'm a lot more positive today than I was; I was very negative back then. I'm not that no more. I'm not angry with anybody, I don't hate anybody, I don't have beef with anybody, I don't have anything bad going on, I'm not drinking (and) driving, I'm not doing none of that stuff. So it's just kind of a reflection of where I am today.
AP: Does your son ever influence your music?
Royce da 5'9": I try not to let it influence my music. I try to live a double life, as horrible as that sounds. I try not to be Royce da 5'9" in my home; I try to just be Ryan Montgomery. A regular person, and I don't want my son looking at me like Royce da 5'9", and he has to understand that my music is a reflection of the entire me, not just the dad but the person that goes out the door, the person that's going to protect the home, the person that's going to provide. I'm all of those people wrapped up in one, so I kind of bring out different sides to my music that he doesn't need to see.
AP : What will you tell your son about your past mistakes?
Royce da 5'9:" Depending how old he is, if I feel that he's of age and he's mature enough, I'd be very honest with him. Like I went to jail for a year and I didn't think he was old enough to understand and handle it so, I lied, I Iied to him. My wife was dropping me off every day at the work release facility and I was telling him that it was the studio. I didn't want to do that to him. I didn't want him to have to think about that. And when he gets to age he'll either find out and come to me and talk to me about it and we can discuss it, or I'm going to tell him when I feel like the time is right. I think as a parent, it's our job to protect our child's feelings. ... You don't want them growing up too fast.