By Luke FoxEminem and Royce Da 5'9" first came together as Bad Meets Evil in 1999 for the single "Nuttin' to Do" / "Scary Movie," when the hip-hop underground was fiending for clever battle raps and creative rhyme patterns. Though their bank accounts are a little stronger, it was that same aesthetic that Royce and Em tried to capture when recording the super-long-awaited Bad Meets Evil EP, Hell: The Sequel.
"We tried to just go in and not worry about making a certain type of record. We just wanted to go in there and rap, which is what our relationship is based off, really" Royce tells Exclaim! "I think if we had gone in and made that first song back in the day and not had so much fun doing it, we wouldn't have cared about keeping in touch with each other. But we think so much alike on a creative level."
For the most part, the duo worked in the same Detroit studio, building off each other's freshest verse. "That's when it becomes fun," he says. "When the last word on my few bars becomes the word I'm giving him to rhyme off of. It's kinda like doing a crossword puzzle, and that's fun for both of us. It might not be fun for every MC, but MCs like us, that challenge is the fun part for us."
The pair did include one track on the EP that could garner radio play. Hell's first official single, "Lighters," features pop star Bruno Mars on the hook. Originally a production by Minnesota's Battle Roy that Royce intended to use for his solo album, "Lighters" became Bad Meets Evil property once he played it for Eminem.
Slim Shady was inspired to write a verse to the track first, which prompted Royce to write his the very next day. BME then flew to L.A. to play the song for Mars, who liked what he heard. Mars changed the hook slightly, both Mars and Eminem tweaked the beat to flush it out, and the single came together.
"We figured we'd have one song for other people to listen to," Royce says. "People who don't like listening to straight-up, raw, rappitty-rap lyrics. One joint to show versatility."