Obie Trice with Rochester , aka Juice , at Tonic Nightclub (117 Peter), Wednesday (February 18). $15/ 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Twenty-five-year-old detroit mc Obie Trice's debut CD, Cheers, has just achieved platinum status here in Canada and sits just under platinum stateside. His videos are all over television, and he's known for his "real name, no gimmicks" style, thanks to props in Eminem's ubiquitous 2002 Without Me single.
But he's sick of your questions, especially your questions about people who aren't him.
"I'm sick of the Ja Rule questions," he says via a cellphone through which the whoosh of trains can be heard, this in reference to the much-discussed Ja Rule/50 Cent beef, on which Trice threw in his 2 cents on the dis track We All Die One Day.
"I'm sick of the question, 'With the success of 50 Cent, where do you think you are?' I'm sick of the questions about Benzino, Ray, the guy from Source, whatever his name is. Man, I want to hear some original questions."
Luckily, the only situation out of his three most-hated Q's that piqued my interest was the one involving Ray Benzino. Eminem's feud with the Source magazine co-owner and rap artist has been ongoing for a while. Benzino called Eminem the rap Hitler and a series of back-and-forth rebuttals in song form have been released.
The situation escalated when Source acquired a 1989 recording of Eminem disparaging African Americans, freestyling such sketchy lines as "All the girls I like to bone have big butts / no they don't / 'cause I don't like that nigger shit."
Obie sympathizes with Mathers but doesn't downplay the toxicity of his words.
"To be derogatory about black women when we didn't ask to be in this country - there's still racism in America. It's definitely something that needs to be addressed.
"But Eminem was young when he wrote it. I'm not condoning it, but as a youngster everybody says ignorant things. He went through a situation with a chick, he says.
"A bitch did him wrong, and he made a song about it. I'm not condoning it, but at the same time that's my man. He wasn't trying to be how they trying to make him look, like he's racist or something."
It's possible Trice gets asked about other rappers all the time because he doesn't project his ego or give himself as many props as more flamboyant MCs. It's not shyness, though. It's just his way of playing the game.
"I'm not an ego-driven type of dude. Never been. If I was sitting on something, you wouldn't know about it. If I was the richest guy out the hood I wouldn't be the bling-bling guy. The bling-bling guy is basically saying, 'Here, try to rob me. Come take my money.' I've always been low-key. I've based my life on it."
Not seeking attention probably helped save his life while he lived as a small-time hood, moving out of his mother's house at 17. How did he get caught up in the streets? Obie doesn't see a way not to.
"It's right there for you. When you walk out the door, it's inevitable that you'll indulge in any kind of criminal behaviour. It's the hood. There could be a guy who came out of the hood who's just a regular straighty-eighty guy, but I don't know him."