Upon the release of his memoirs, Eminem talked to Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe about fame and taking a break from recording.
Source: BBC Radio 1
Date: 21 October 2008
Interview title: “Eminem: ‘My life became crazy'”
This book is like the ultimate scrapbook for fans. It must have been really good fun for you to go through all the old bags and pick things out?
Oh yeah. It was years of collecting memorabilia and just saying, ‘I wonder one day, will I use this?’. It was just a bunch of stuff that was sticking around my house.
This was the perfect thing to do with it all.
For you seeing The Beastie Boys seemed almost like your punk rock moment like when kids see The Sex Pistols and The Clash and go, ‘I can do it’. Is that true?
When I saw The Beastie Boys, I remember I was sleeping on a couch somewhere at one of my mother’s boyfriend’s house and I saw a video come on TV and I was like ‘Holy sh*t’. It wasn’t just they were white, they were dope.
That’s what made me think this could be possible, it can be done.
Everyone needs a confidant in their lives and for you it was (the late rapper) Proof. He was the hand on your back pushing you wasn’t he?
Oh yeah. Proof was the kind of person I would go and play something to and he would immediately give me the criticism I needed.
If something was bad he would make fun of me for it but he wouldn’t do it in a mean way. We’d joke about it.
But when I did hit something, he would tell me and he would be really fuc*ing adamant about it.
He also took you down the hip-hop shop and dragged you onto the mic didn’t he?
He basically called me and said, ‘Come down, try it out there’s going to be this battle going on’.
He said, ‘Wait until most people clear out after the battle and just rhyme and let people hear you’.
I went down there and just from the few people down there, I got this response, it was crazy. That was a turning point in my life.
Proof came up with the idea that everyone has an alias. You sat down on the toilet and that was where divine inspiration struck you?
I was sitting on the toilet and a lot of good material came out of that. This name popped into my head. I was kind of skinny and I thought maybe it should be something slim.
And then for some reason Slim Shady popped into my mind and I just thought of 20 things to rhyme with it. I just thought, ‘This is it’. I went back in the room and just kept writing.
Then there was an infamous connect between you and Dr Dre. Was it a phone call?
We had put out the Slim Shady EP and it sold 250 copies. We got a call from a guy named Vegas who said he wanted to buy 2,000.
So we go out there and I’m going round the stores in Vegas putting the tapes on consignment.
I did that for two days and came back to the hotel and my producer Mark Bass goes, ‘We got a phone call today from some doctor. Yeah some doctor named Dr Dre’.
I was like, ‘Mark this isn’t funny’. It took a minute for me to believe it was the real deal.
When did you first speak to Dre?
It was in person at Interscope. When Dre walked in I played it cool because I didn’t want to act like I was overzealous or too much of a fan.
Basically we knew what was going to happen that day and Dre was just like, ‘Where do we go from here?’ Let’s get the paperwork done’.
Afterwards I was jumping up and down like I was hysterical. I was like ‘that was fu*king Dr Dre.’
When I first heard My Name Is, it was a defining moment for rap music. What was that feeling like when you finished it?
I didn’t think, ‘This is going to be a hit record’. I just wanted a reaction from Dre.
I wanted to be able to sit in a booth and look at him through the glass and see what his reaction was going to be when I said these punch lines.
What do you remember about that Slim Shady tour?
I actually don’t remember nothing. It was insane. I was drinking a lot, I was doing recreational things that I thought were recreational that would catch up with me later.
But at the time it was like, ‘This is cool let me do this’. We were like, ‘We got this, we got that’ and it was like everything was there.
You developed the character and started writing about drugs and all of a sudden you started taking the drugs?
Yeah I think I thought, ‘I’m rapping about it so it’s OK to do it’.
You started messing about with guns and that got you in serious trouble. (Eminem pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon during an altercation outside a nightclub and was sentenced to one year’s probation and community service in June 2001). How scared were you?
It was a turning point in the sense that I had to change my life and make a decision. I think I made a decision when I was sitting in the back of a cop car.
But when I got through it, I was like, ‘I can’t act like an idiot anymore. I got kids’.
With the Marshall Mathers LP, you became a rap superstar. How difficult and awkward was it for you?
At the time I couldn’t believe everybody was making this big stink over me.
It was crazy but I had to keep myself grounded right then. For a while I thought I was literally all people would talk about.
You can’t understand it because you’re you and you just don’t get it.
Another great record The Eminem Show came out. The shows got bigger. Were you enjoying yourself at this point?
Yeah I was actually enjoying myself at that time despite the legal thing. It weighed pretty heavy on me but all in all I was like, ‘Let me seize this moment’.
When did you stop enjoying yourself?
On the last (Encore) tour. All in all I’m a pretty private person when it comes to certain things that I want to keep private.
It’s just me and my family’s business. There were days when I just couldn’t wait to get home and have privacy when nobody’s watching me.
The time you spent away with your family, raising your kids and watching them grow up, that must have been great for you?
That made me feel like a person again. It took a while. It was a case of I’ve done what I want to do in rap so far but now let me do what I want to do in the producing end and help out other artists.
In the next few weeks America is going to go through a transition. Do you know who you are going to vote for in the Presidential election?
Yeah I will vote for Barack Obama. I can’t get too political honestly because I don’t know enough about everything to know what’s going on.
I know we’re going into a recession and pardon the cliche but we need something to change.
I think Barack would be a breath of fresh air to get what’s left of the Bush administration out of the door.