Eminem steps from his suite in the posh Dorchester hotel in London wearing an oversize white parka with a huge fur-lined hood that seems to swallow him when he flips it over his head. This makes him all but invisible. As he moves briskly through the hallway with his confident strut, he's cocooned by four bodyguards, three record-company people and one manager. "We're walking," a bodyguard says to his walkie-talkie. If you'd been in the hallway as they flowed from room to elevator, you wouldn't have been able to get within six feet of him. But as he walks by, he looks up, and behind his thin glasses his blue eyes are rather sullen, as if he were some sort of prisoner being escorted.
They reach the elevator, and the group piles in. "We're in the elevator," the bodyguard says to the walkie. And the door closes. Everyone in the cocoon knows that outside the Dorchester there are at least twenty fans waiting for Eminem, mostly teenage and twentysomething girls. One who waits for him for hours has a silver backward e pendant and wears Nike wristbands over her hands, just the way he does. Also nearby are four girls in a Peugeot, waiting to chase, but they won't get far. Eminem's caravan consists of three silver Mercedes vans and one silver Mercedes sedan, which, when needed, blocks traffic to keep away chasers or prevents the vans from getting separated, like a guard dog aiding a pack of elephants. Click here to read the full article.
Eminem is in town to promote D12's new album, D12 World, the follow-up to 2001's Devil's Night and another collection of gruesome rhymes calculated to offend and amuse. The night before, D12 played a concert at tiny Shepherds Bush Empire. Now the group is headed to Top of the Pops -- basically the British TRL -- to perform D12 World's first single, the hilarious, catchy and highly ironic "My Band," which pokes fun at the stratification in the group brought on by Eminem's fame. "My Band" is a parody, but as with any good joke, there are truths within it. For example, at the concert, an unscientific poll of people in the VIP room found most couldn't name any of the members of D12. A few recognized Bizarre, who stands out because of his twisted imagination, and Proof, well known to be Eminem's best friend. But two people asked me if I was a member of D12.
Eminem and his cocoon reach the studios where Top of the Pops is taped and find fifty kids camped out by the gate and another thirty or forty perched just twenty yards from the entrance. Eminem flips down his invisibility-conferring hood and steps from his van into the studio, where there's a dressing room waiting for him. Next door is the dressing room for D12. That's where there's a little party going on. It's like a mini-frat house: Domino's boxes piled three feet high, a joint going around and a Chappelle's Show DVD playing on someone's laptop while the five rappers all talk at once.
There's twenty-five-year-old Kon Artis (government name: Denaun Porter), a former roommate of Eminem's who has become a respected producer, getting $25,000 a beat. He made "P.I.M.P." and "Stunt 101" with 50 Cent and has also worked with Sting, Snoop, Method Man and Busta Rhymes. He's the techie of the group. Right now he's telling twenty-seven-year-old Kuniva (Von Carlisle, whose phone rings with the Good Times theme song), "Nigga, you just learned that word download, and you about to download a ass-whippin'!" And there's twenty-eight-year-old Proof (DeShaun Holton), who, right now, is comically condemning twenty-eight-year-old Swift (Ondre Moore) like a ghetto judge because Proof is the founder of D12 and the glue that holds the group together, while Swift is the member who packs CDs and DVDs for road trips but no players, because he plans on just borrowing from others. "That's his packing strategy!" Proof says to howls, clowning Swift in front of everyone.
Kon Artis leaps in from his conversation. "He'll ask you to borrow yo' shit while you listenin' to it!" Swift doesn't even try to defend himself; he just laughs. Proof says, "Where's my lighter?" He really doesn't know. He says, "Swifty's pocket, I bet." Swift empties his pockets to show he's got nothing. But Proof searches through the clothes tossed here and there and finds his lighter in the pocket of the sweat pants Swift was wearing twenty minutes ago. Busted. "What'd I say?!" Proof says to big laughs. "Swifty's pocket!"
On the side, a makeup girl sprays something in Kuniva's face, and he sort of screams. The road manager says, "You kinda sounded like a little girl there." And parked in the corner is twenty-seven-year-old Bizarre (Rufus Johnson), the class clown supreme, his hair dyed red, sporting an oversize blazer and jeans, making a mockery of the trendy style. On Bizarre's stomach there's an ornate tattoo of an ill clown with a revolver in his hand, edges ripping as if he's bursting through Bizarre's stomach. To one of the band's minders he says, "Watch my bag. I got weed, pills and fifty dollars' worth of Euros in there." If you redid CB4 for 2004, it might look like D12.
The separate-dressing-room thing doesn't bother them, at least not anymore. "It's better that D12 have they own dressing room and Em has his own dressing room," Bizarre says. "When it first happened, we used to be like, 'Damn, why he get his own dressing room?' But I'd rather have my own room and have who I wanna come in than be in Em room and be told who can come in." Besides, many nights Eminem wants D12 in his room. "He'll come over to our dressing room sometimes like, 'Why don't y'all come over with me?' " Kon Artis says. "Like a little kid: 'Come play with me.' "
Back when Eminem was in Detroit flipping burgers and painting designs on people's jeans for thirty dollars a pop, these guys were his friends. When no one else took him seriously, they helped teenage Marshall Mathers become the rhyme animal Slim Shady. "There's a million things Em could be doin' besides doin' an album with D12," Kuniva says, "but we're the only real friends he has. We grew up together, lived together, flipped burgers together. We used to just sit on the porch and drink and think about hip-hop, think about makin' it. There's a bond there that nobody can break. And there's a whole thing with him feelin' like he owes it to us to do it. He knows without D12 there wouldn't be a Slim Shady."
Back in the mid-Nineties, when Proof was the king of hip-hop in Detroit and everyone thought he would be the first to get large, they all made a pact that whoever made it first would pull the others up. "From '94 to '97, the possibilities of any of us getting a deal was good," Bizarre recalls. "We were, like, the best MCs in Detroit. It was like, 'Yo, whoever get on first and get a deal, come back and get everybody else.' " Then Eminem took a trip to Los Angeles and landed a record contract. "He went to Cali and called us three weeks later from a pay phone," Bizarre says. "He said, 'Yo, I just signed with Dr. Dre. I need y'all to come out here.' " True to his word, Eminem immediately began trying to fit D12 into the scenario. "Marshall was tryin' to force us on him," Bizarre said. " 'This is my boys! D12!' And Dre said, 'Wait a minute - it's about you.' Dre told him, 'Build your house before you have your friends walk in it.' "
Success has only made Eminem need his friends more. "They're my foundation," he says. "If I lose my foundation, then what do I have? Just to be by myself on a big-ass mountain, a little lonely rich bastard? Not only are these guys my friends, I don't trust nobody new that I meet. At all."
It's clear that Eminem finds fame a difficult weight to shoulder. He speaks with almost glazed eyes about the good ol' days. "Proof would call me at one, two o'clock in the morning with just syllables," he says, reminiscing, "like, 'Yo, an abominable region, an abdominal lesion.' That's how we fed off each other back in the day. Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Kool G Rap, whoever did syllables, we just locked on to them. That's what my loyalty dates back to, the days of living on fuckin' Dresden, on the East Side, in my kitchen wishin' we could do something. From kids to now, we're living the dream." Source: rollingstone.com