While the wounds caused by Slaughterhouse’s breakup are still tender, it might be therapeutic to look back on their origin story. In 2008, Joe Budden released Halfway House, which featured the first recorded collaboration between Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5’9″, and KXNG Crooked (read our extensive interview with Crook here). Of course, Nino Bless also held it down, but given his omission from the group, his presence feels superfluous in the greater historical context; no disrespect intended. In any case, “Slaughterhouse” put lyricism at the forefront, with competition providing a steady course of lifeblood. Yet such competition did not necessarily stem from a healthy place – at least not at first.

As Royce once explained to Complex, he and Joe Budden had previously exchanged shots, which ultimately transformed into genuine animosity. Upon speaking to his manager Kino, Royce ultimately decided to put aside his squabbles with Budden. “[Kino] was saying it would be good for the Internet and about putting Crooked, Joell, and Nino Blessed on there,” he explains. “I was like, ‘Okay, if he’s gonna put them on there then fuck it, I’m going to do it.’”

Eventually, the positive response to the track led to fans clamoring for a “supergroup.” Luckily, four of the five parties acquiesced. Though consensus on “who killed it hardest” remains an open debate, “Slaughterhouse” feels like a special moment in time, in which several cult heroes decided to put their differences aside for a higher purpose. Not The Avengers, but rather The Defenders. It may not have yielded the happy ending fans wanted, but the journey still yielded plenty of substance. 

Quotable Lyrics

I don’t write I kill a pen, leak its blood on the page
I breathe bars like oxygen locked my lungs in a cage
Instrumentals get fucked on the stage
A pedophile unless I dig in the crates and fuck with somethin’ my age
Forever vow, to never smile when I’m at peace
Only when I’m eating the deceased like quiche
Only when my enemy’s internal organs are a smorgasbord in a feast

– Crook