Back in 2002 a rapper by the name of Eminem was on top of the world. He was the great white hype from Detroit about to release his third album. He released the first single called “Without Me,” and while it was a smash, the song’s infamous intro was unforgettable: “Obie Trice, real name, no gimmicks”.
What? Who is this guy that is on the intro of a single from arguably the biggest rapper on the planet, at the time? This was Obie Trice’s introduction to the mainstream, and Em helped spark interest with such as big co-sign.
Obie Trice is a Detroit native, and first solo artist signed to Shady Records … before 50 Cent. He dropped two albums under Eminem’s Shady imprint, and amassed a catalog of songs boasting features from the likes of Akon, Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Nate Dogg, Busta Rhymes, and many others. He was Em’s first choice to, not only represent Shady, but Detroit as well.
After his sophomore album, 2006’s Second Rounds On Me, Obie left Shady Records and took some time off. Now, after a nearly six-year hiatus, he’s back. He’s got his own Black Market Entertainment label, and is recently released is third, official LP, Bottoms Up (buy it now on iTunes).
With the project in stores, we had a chance to chop it up with Obie, where we talked about his new album, of course, what he’s learned from Eminem over the years, starting his own label … and selling Eminem’s couch on eBay. LOL, yep, you read right.
You got a beat from Dr. Dre on the new album, is this a newer Dre beat?
This is something he gave me in the last eight months or so. It’s not brand new, but it’s not years old
So you reach out to his people and just ask him for a beat?
Yea I reached out to Aftermath and they sent it over.
How does that work? Do you expect Dre to do it or is it a gamble?
I am fortunate to get Dre to send me something, it was a good look.
Sounds like you and Dre are still cool then?
Yea Dre and I are good.
I see you also have an Eminem feature that is produced by Statik Selektah. How did that come about?
I went to New York and Statik made the beat for me and I jumped on it and came back to Detroit. Then, I sent it to Eminem and he jumped on it. As of now, it’s not a single, but it might be in the future.
How did you actually link up with Eminem?
Bizarre and Eminem’s DJ, DJ Head, hooked me up. I put out some underground music with a producer named MoSs from Toronto. We got a distribution deal and Eminem heard the songs we did. He heard them overseas and when he came back, Bizarre hooked up the actual meeting. DJ Head was in Eminem’s manager ear about me as well, so he helped me out a lot too.
This was around the Marshall Mathers LP right?
Yea, right around then.
Do you know a lot of the rappers in the Detroit scene?
I know Proof from performing at the Hip Hop Shop, a venue in Detroit. I know Bizarre just from coming up. We all know of each other in Detroit though.
Then Eminem hears your music and just wanted to sign you?
Well it wasn’t that simple. We had to go back and forth for a while with the contracts and stuff like that.
I always wanted to know the story behind Eminem putting you at the beginning of his single “Without Me”, with the infamous line, “Obie Trice, real name, no gimmicks” …
It was a marketing tool because I had an album coming out. They tried to figure out the best way to market my first album, Cheers.
I think that was really genius move and you don’t see big artists putting there necks out there for their talent like Eminem did with you.
It was a great look for me from Eminem and it worked out for the greater good.
Not that many artists would do something for that for their artist. Jay-z signed J.Cole, but I haven’t even seen one picture of them actually together.
I think Jay-z is a different type of animal. He did great songs with a lot of artist. He just never really did videos. He put Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek on his back and State Property. I guess that’s just where his career is at now.
Were you a big fan of Eminem before signing to him?
Yea definitely. I brought Eminem’s music to the hood when my guys were kind of shunning him.
You were the first solo artist to sign with Shady Records before 50 Cent, Cashis, Bobby Creekwater and Stat Quo. Did you guys interact a lot?
We were mostly around each other on tour, when we did the Anger Management tour. Stat Quo was in Detroit a lot, so him and me were pretty tight and we shared a tour bus. I was cool with everyone, but I spent the most time around Stat Quo.
You put out two albums through Shady, which were both successful, but then you left Shady Records. I read some quotes from you where you said when it came time to do your third album, Interscope didn’t really help you out, so you left. I always felt like it was just a timing issue because 50 Cent mania came around and kind of overshadowed the rest of Shady. What’s your take on that?
It was definitely 50 mania at that time and I think my second album could have been promoted better as well. I had some internal issues with interscope at the time, but I don’t have any bad blood with anyone. There were some things I was supposed to do that I didn’t do back then as well, so everything happens for a reason.
It really is a “What have you done for me lately?” type of industry. You put out two solid albums with solid singles and then the third time around, they weren’t really thinking about your project?
My second album was something that was big. I had a single with Akon called “Snitch”. My record got banned from MTV because they didn’t want to be associated with the whole “snitching” thing. At the time, BET had issues with Eminem because he missed their award show three years in a row. They wouldn’t play any Shady Record artist because of that. Basically, there were things outside of my control and politics that hurt my promotion as well.
Did you plan on doing a third album at Interscope or did you want to leave even before that?
I was definitely planning on doing a third album there. It was gonna be called Bottoms Up. I was trying to get my budget open, but Jimmy [Iovine] wasn’t interested. So, I got my release and left.
You have worked with a lot of people from Eminem to Dr. Dre to Timbaland and Akon. What is your favorite defining moment of your career?
Actually that my [debut] album, Cheers. It was a platinum-plus album. I got almost two million albums sold, it was a huge accomplishment. Having fans come up to me and telling me my music changed their lives was a big accomplishment.
It has been about six years since your last album came out. What were you doing during this time?
I was taking some personal time off with my family. I was still working and recording, but I was off the radar. I needed to step back from the industry and re-group.
Did you think about signing with another major label? It would be tough going from having Eminem as a boss to some other major label with a regular A&R and stuff.
I’ll never sign with another major label again. I am good with the indie thing. It’s cool with me. I would rather be running my own company, then have people telling me what’s hot and what’s not. This is a lot more time consuming and you gotta spend your own money, but it’s better than signing with a major label, in my opinion. I am happy to be learning the things I am learning now by going independent.
Did you actually see Eminem and his manager running the label day-to-day?
Eminem was in the studio a lot, but his manager Paul [Rosenberg] did a lot of the label stuff. I learned a lot from Paul, just seeing him go through everything and making the decisions and running the company.
What’s the biggest thing you learned from Eminem?
Definitely his work ethic and constantly making music and working.
I asked people on the Internet if they had any questions for you. The one question that kept popping up was: a while back, you were on eBay selling a couch? Is that true?
Yea, I know exactly what you are talking about.
What’s the story behind that?
At the time, it was a joke that people didn’t get. Back then, Cam’ron was selling his pink Range Rover and other artists were selling stuff. As a joke I had this couch that Eminem gave me a long time ago, so I put it on eBay for sale. It was one of those things, if it worked, I would of sold it (laughs). It went the wrong way and people thought that I was broke. It turnt out to be the wrong thing to do. It was a learning lesson and I definitely would of sold it, but I took it down.
That’s probably a million dollar couch.
Yea and I think I put a small caption at the bottom like “His DNA might still be on it”, ’cause his fans are that crazy.
How did Eminem react to this?
He thought it was funny. I mean, we all did, but it didn’t go the way we thought it would.
Any last words for your fans?
I appreciate my fans and you guys for doing the interview. Reach me on twitter @RealObieTrice or on Facebook (Facebook.com/ObieTrice). You can also check out my label’s website at Blackmarketent313.com.
Follow Redhands on Twitter @Redhands