On Wednesday, it was revealed that Eminem had made two new signings to his Shady Records. The expanded lineup would help reposition the company as it enters what Em described as “phase two of Shady.”
Along with Alabama upstart [artist id="2043244"]Yelawolf[/artist], the Shady label boss inked [artist id="3031489"]Slaughterhouse[/artist] — comprised of industry journeymen Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, Royce Da 5’9″ and Crooked I — after rumors circulated for well over a year that the rap supergroup would be joining Em. Now officially a done deal, the rap collective is set to drop a self-titled EP on Shady/E1 on February 8.
Cali MC Crooked I called in to DJ Supa James’ 104.3 NOW radio show in Las Vegas the same day the news was made public and spoke about what it means for a storied underground group to sign with a mainstream powerhouse like Eminem.
“I look at it like, for hip-hop on a whole, to have four dudes come together and represent different regions and represent hip-hop to the fullest, and get a deal to where we could travel into the mainstream and take our music to a bigger stage, I think it’s good for hip-hop,” he said.
Thirty-two-year-old Crooked hails from Long Beach, California, and has been sloughing it through hip-hop’s trenches since the late ’90s. He was once signed to Suge Knight’s Death Row Records, but it was long after the label’s heyday, and by 2003, Crooked’s contract had expired without him ever releasing an album. After dropping a handful of mixtapes, he hit the Net with a series of weekly freestyles in 2007 that garnered him a sizable following.
“A lot of people out East, sometimes they sleep on West Coast artists and it might take a little longer for a West Coast artist to get respect over there,” he told Supa James. “[On the West Coast], I feel like it’s a lot of dudes that’s grinding, a lot of dudes that deserve a lot of shine and for some reason just ain’t getting the shine. I think the door is cracked open for us now and I’mma kick it all the way open so other people can just rush right in.”
In 2008, Budden (another MC with a big online following) recruited Crooked I, Royce and Joell Ortiz for a song titled “Slaughterhouse,” which landed on Budden’s Halfway House album. The track birthed the group and they went on to release their self-titled, no-frills debut LP the next year. According to Crooked I, Shady Records is the perfect home for Slaughterhouse’s style of rap, which emphasizes clever wordplay over neck-snapping production.
“Eminem is the kind of dude that makes classic albums as a whole,” he said. “And then when it comes to his radio presence, he’s the kind of dude that don’t have to make a certain type of song. Like, ‘Oh, I gotta make a club banger.’ He could do ‘I’m Not Afraid’ and talk about his life and still make a smash hit out of it. So he’s very respected; I plan on fully utilizing that.”
“We just gonna come with the same thing,” Crooked continued, insisting Slaughterhouse won’t go pop. “We gon’ stick with what got us here. It’s like when you’re in the Super Bowl. If your running game got you to the Super Bowl, don’t start passing. We’re just gonna stick to our guns.”
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