Hip-Hop/rap continues to evolve, with new artists popping up daily. But with Hip-Hop’s 50th year anniversary, we’re reminded to pay homage to the OGs. Enter Royal Flush, the Queens, New York rapper who exploded onto the rap scene in 1997 with his debut album, Ghetto Millionaire. Coming up alongside Mic Geronimo, the two quickly inserted themselves as mainstays in the Hip-Hop realm, with Royal Flush even making his stamp in the fashion world with style.
Most recently, the entire Hip-Hop community has come together to support Royal Flush in his ongoing battle fighting Grade 3A Follicular Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. Flush (real name Ramel Govantes) is currently undergoing his fifth round of chemo but maintaining a positive mindset throughout it all.
AllHipHop spoke with Royal Flush virtually, who was in high spirits on the East Coast. Read below as we discuss how he’s feeling, being diagnosed with cancer, his take on Hip-Hop 50, his cancer benefit show, Jay-Z opening for him and more.
AllHipHop: First off, how are you feeling?
Royal Flush: You know, dealing with my situations. I have some good days and bad days, but today I feel good. I feel good today.
AllHipHop: Mental health is really big for me, I’m curious how your mental health has been throughout this whole journey.
Royal Flush: It’s been rough. I’m diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. I’m stage 3.5, which has put a toll on me. The average person has maybe 10 lymphomas, I had maybe a hundred something lymphomas through my body. It was something very challenging for my doctor, just dealing with cancer. It’s an everyday battle. Dealing with cancer, it gets rid of your good and your bad cells, so it’s hard to fight everything. It’s not just the cancer. It’s the high blood pressure, the diabetes. It’s an everyday adventure in life, but I’m fighting.
AllHipHop: When did you find out about all this?
Royal Flush: I knew it eight months before it happened. I felt one of the lymph nodes in my body, but I didn’t pay no mind to it. Maybe six months later, I felt like maybe 10 or 12. I still don’t really pay no mind to it, then they all exploded and got big. One landed on my leg and one landed up my lungs. I had to force myself to go to a hospital, and that’s when I was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer.
AllHipHop: I’m so sorry. Do you know what might have led to this? Was it a lifestyle thing?
Royal Flush: It has to be, because it’s not in my generation. It’s not in my family, it’s not in my genes. Probably just wear and tear in life, growing up and surviving through so much. I don’t do nothing too too bad, I guess eventually life catches up.
AllHipHop: Talk about how much music helps.
Royal Flush: Music was a big help. When I went in and the doctors looked at me and said it wasn’t even a real possible chance to be living, it was going to be a real journey to fight it. But seeing all the love I got: 50 Cent hitting me, Envy. Every radio station, every DJ and every producer, that made me want to fight. We didn’t think I was going to make it on my third round of chemo. I’m on my fifth round now, so I’m doing good.
AllHipHop: What did 50 Cent say?
Royal Flush: He said, “this is what a real n*gga was before you knew what a real n*gga was.”
AllHipHop: I saw Norega showing love to you as well.
Royal Flush: Yes yes yes. Everybody showed me love. The music industry is something I started with. If people don’t know who I am, I started with Mic Geronimo. When he first started with Irv [Gotti], it was me and him. His first album, I did 13 songs, then I came out with my own album. My first single was “WorldWide,” second single was “Iced Down Medallions.” I’ve been working since ‘97 on. I did songs with Pun. I did songs with Big L, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I did songs with B.G., Juvenile, Twista, Mack 10. There’s probably not ana artist you can’t name that I did songs with. Music is keeping me alive, definitely. The music is definitely keeping me fighting.
AllHipHop: What’s your best memory from “Iced Down Medallions”?
I could say Jay-Z opening up for me. [laughs] The time in life when my single came out around the same time Jay-Z was coming out. We did our show in North Carolina College and I was the headliner. That was a big moment for me.
AllHipHop: What was Jay-Z like at that point in his career?
Royal Flush: He was always in Brooklyn. We got money, so we was always fly. We chilled. It was me, Jay-Z, AZ. It was a lot of us that day. He’s always been chill. If I see him to this day, we still rap it up.
AllHipHop: What do you miss most about the golden era of Hip Hop?
Royal Flush: Like I tell a lot of my peers from my islands: times change. You gotta get with the wave. One thing I can say with this 50th anniversary of Hip Hop, I’m not really buying it. Because the artists from my era did not get accepted or did not get appreciated in the 50 years of Hip Hop. I don’t see any of the M.O.P.’s. I don’t see none of the Tony Yayo’s, the Capone or Norega, the Mobb Deep, the Royal Flush, the Cormega’s, the Nature’s. Our generation didn’t really get accepted in this 50 years of Hip Hop, so maybe next year it’ll work for us. That’s my only regret as far the 50th Hip Hop thing.
AllHipHop: Do you remember the moment you fell in love with Hip Hop?
Royal Flush: Growing up being that I was a street dude and I was always in the street, I remember hearing Kool G Rap. When I heard Kool G Rap, I’m like okay, somebody that relates to the streets. Then I heard Rakim, okay there goes knowledge. Then I heard Big Daddy Kane, okay this is for the ladies. So I took all three of them elements, and that’s what made me the artist I am today.
AllHipHop: The Royal Price Show out now, what did it mean to pay tribute to Sean Price?
Royal Flush: Me and Sean Price always been friends, always was on tour with Duck Down. Me and Sean Price, we became real real real best friends a year and a half before he died. We both had daughters the same ago, so we’d do the daddy father thing. That was my friend. We did two albums, just me and him by ourselves. I waited for a while, after everybody threw their albums out with him for me to throw out. It meant a lot to me. If you hear this Sean Price show album, you hear that me and him did it together. He says my name a lot and I say his name a lot. That was definitely a dear friend of mine I do miss.
AllHipHop: What do you want fans to take away from this project?
Royal Flush: The project’s unbelievable. If you’re a Sean Price fan, a Royal Flush fan, you understand we put something together. There’s nothing like that album. Those are the last bit of lyrics that you’re going to hear, that he wrote and laid. It’s definitely a lot into this album. To my fans if you didn’t go get it, it’s called The Royal Price Show. If you know me, my first album was Ghetto Millionaire. This year, I got a new album coming out called Ghetto Billionaire that’s unbelievable. So get ready.
AllHipHop: What can expect from Ghetto Billionaire? It’s a lot more than a millionaire.
Royal Flush: In ‘97, a million dollars was something. Nowadays, a million dollars ain’t nothing. Ghetto Billionaire is definitely it. I got producers on there from Premiere to Pete Rock to Cartoon. I got so many producers on there, it’s unbelievable. Large Professor, and the features I got is unbelievable. This one of them albums where you usually get somebody’s album, you can read the credits. Read who produced it, what artists are on it. I made it back to that, and I also put a lot of songs. First album had 24 tracks, this one might have the same.
AllHipHop: Do you have a favorite song from The Royal Price Show?
Royal Flush: Ooh, I love them all. My favorite one is “Bars Over B#######.” That’s me, Sean Price, and Cassidy. That’s one of my favorites. I got one with me, him, and Grafh, which is one of my favs too. I got some nice ones with him.
AllHipHop: Being an OG in Hip Hop, how difficult or easy is it for you to call on the homies to get features?
Royal Flush: With me, a lot of them respect me. A lot of them know I don’t call on people, a lot of them know I don’t need favors. I never been in one for favors. When I do call, they respond. A lot of times, a lot of these rappers will call me for certain situations. So I’d throw it on like, “OK, a favor for a favor.” That’s how I work with a lot of people. Any artists that know me, that met me, if I came to your town, y’all know how Flush gives it up. They respect me.
AllHipHop: What does it mean to do it in support of what you’re going through? That’s really powerful, especially for people that are struggling.
Royal Flush: Me, my message is to give. Because going to the hospital, I did meet a lot of people that’s going through what I’m going through. A lot of people don’t survive because they don’t have a support system. Or when they get in a situation that’s critical as mine, they hide. They hide from the public, they hide from the world. They keep to themselves. Me, I want to identify the people that’s going through the struggle that I’m going through. No, mention it. Talk to people, feel good. Let them know what you’re going through. It takes a weight off your shoulders.
That’s my message I’m giving to everybody that’s going through a situation, that’s costing your life. Talk to people, get up. Don’t lay in the bed and die. Fight every day, try to stick to your same routine. Just talk to people. People can’t judge you for being sick. I’m trying to give that message off to a lot of people, because I do know people that just lay down and die. Don’t want to ask for help and hide from the family. Not me, I’m calling my family every day. I’m hungry, get up. That’s it. The only way you could beat anything that’s going wrong in your life is a support system, and I have a great one with me.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
Royal Flush: That’s it. Know that a rapper that’s out here, that’s lit, that’s going through a situation is not giving up. If I can go through this and still want to survive in Hip Hop, then anybody that wants to be in Hip Hop, you got a chance. If you see me fighting going through it, then if you want to make it, you can do it. I’m supposed to be dying and I’m still rapping. If you ain’t dying and rapping, go for your dreams.