Obie Trice discusses Bottoms Up album, reconnecting with Eminem + Black Market Entertainment

It may have been his former labelmate and longtime friend Eminem who asked the masses to “guess who’s back” with his 2002 hit single “Without Me“, but it’s Obie Trice who’s answering the question a decade later. Nearly six years had passed since one of Detroit’s foremost rappers delivered a studio album, the last being 2006’s Second Round’s On Me, and the hiatus is attributed to both personal and business matters (i.e., a loss of faith in then-distributors Interscope coupled with the devastating passing of one of Obie’s closest friends, Proof).

Looking to reinvigorate a career spanning over 10 years, Obie Trice has since launched independent record label Black Market Entertainment, creating the outlet to release his third LP Bottoms Up, which marked its way into distribution on April 3rd. Gathering contributions from old friends Eminem and Dr. Dre, as well as from talents like Statik Selektah, MC Breed and NoSpeakerz, the album serves as the official comeback of Obie Trice — and he’s acting like nothing has changed.

“The sound is not quite different. I feel like it’s something, if you’ve been a fan of the music before, you can definitely ride to this one,” Trice details over the phone, providing the precise subtitle to his new body of work. “The music before,” of course, refers to the emcee’s previous two albums, his debut LP Cheers, which dropped in 2003, and the aforementioned Second Round’s On Me, two bodies of work that cultivated the streetwise-yet-melodically mastered rap-mosphere which Bottoms Up explores freely.

In layman’s terms, it’s no-nonsense hip-hop.

It’s that brand of rap music that Obie, alongside his Shady Records boss and partner-in-rhyme Eminem, championed during the best part of the noughties. While he may be looking to carry his established sound across the bridge of a new decade, it’s reconnecting with his old pal that’s evoked the biggest smile.

“It was like nothing other — it was still great. Me and Eminem had a lot of fun doing ‘Richard,'” Trice says. “We got in the studio, we talked about a lot of personal things and we had a lot of fun at the same time. It’s always good to connect with my brother again like that.”

Fortunately, the pair’s “Richard” cut doesn’t look like it will be the last collaboration in this new era: “We’re definitely going to be making more music together for future projects,” Trice says.

While Obie Trice hasn’t appeared to have missed a beat on his return to music, the industry itself has most definitely transformed. His debut album dropped in 2003, a period during which the prerequisites for fame were only radio play and TV airtime, and magazines were the solo outlets breaking artists (how absurd, right?). Ahead of the release of Bottoms Up, Obie would find himself playing ball under a whole new set of rules, but you’d be a fool to think the Detroit native was fazed.

“Websites and blogs are the new era for hip-hop right now. It’s where a lot of people that enjoy the culture can get their information and music. It’s a constant-evolving business, so I just adapt to it. It’s definitely different from when I first started, which was 10 years ago, but I’m glad that it’s evolving because this is a billion-dollar business. So long as the culture is moving forward, I’m all for it,” he explains matter-of-factly, expressing both his veteran’s concerns and a young man’s open-mindedness towards hip-hop’s new practice.

There’s no tip-toeing past “Got Some Teeth” when discussing Obie Trice, but in the man’s brief catalogue you’ll likely encounter a number of introspective records. Exhibit A: Cheers‘ “Never Forget Ya“; which is unique in its blend of Talib Kweli-esque consciousness and thuggery akin to 50 Cent, as the emcee dedicates the song to those close to him. It’s this sense of duty to his peoples that lies at the heart of Obie’s Black Market Entertainment, the label he established two years ago.

“It’s the economics here — everybody just needs a job, basically,” the rapper details of his hometown’s financial, employment and political crisis, swallowing the depressing pill as he speaks.

Asked if he plans to ease any of these sorrows through his BME brand, he replies with assertion, “Definitely. The reason why I launched the label in the first place was to give some of the artists that are not just in Detroit, but in my region, like in Chicago, Ohio, Milwaukee — the Midwest — the opportunity to be an international artist. That’s my whole goal.”

As Obie gives props to his fellow Motor City counterparts (“I think Detroit hip-hop is a good look. You got Danny Brown, you got Big Sean, eLZhi, Black Milk, Royce Da 5’9″, and you have Slum Village, and Guilty Simpson. You got a lost of artists here that are taking hip-hop to the next level”), the rapper lets it be known that although no plans are in place as of now, he’s sure a collaboration with one or more of these names will come to fruition.

Having enjoyed the fruits of what rap’s highest tier has to offer and the saddening lows of personal tragedy, it appears that a burgeoning future awaits Obie Trice in his growth as both a hip-hop figure and as a man. God’s plans are always unforeseeable, but Detroit’s rap stalwart assures us he aims to stick around for longer this time round:

“I plan to put Bottoms Up out on my label and go right back in and produce another album in the near future.”

Bottoms Up: iTunes UK / iTunes US / /

Obie Trice Online: / Facebook / @realobietrice

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