Eminem interview: “It’s lonely at the top” (NY Rock, 2001)

Source: NY Rock
Date: 2001

Are fame and fortune dreams come true? According to Eminem, they’re more of a nightmare.

Born Marshall Mathers III and alternately known as Slim Shady, the guy from Detroit came from out of nowhere, skyrocketed to hip-hop stardom in less than two years, and is now a household name, unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. With four-million copies sold in five weeks (ten-million to date), Eminem’s latest release The Marshall Mathers LP scored the best-selling solo debut week in pop history. The CD won countless awards, accolades, and, an avalanche of criticism, for its implications of violence and prejudice. The unrestrained rapper has become a steady guest on every rock radio station’s playlist and every publication’s headlines. Each for very different reasons. Eminem has kept the news desks full with his controversial lyrics, arrests, weapons charges, lawsuits, marital disputes, and, believe it or not, four Grammy nominations – complete with corresponding backlash from critics and activist groups alike.

NYROCK: So how does it feel to be rich, famous and the idol of countless teenagers?

EMINEM: I always wished for this, but it’s almost turning into more of a nightmare than a dream. I mean, everybody wants to ride on my fuckin’ coat tails. Everybody’s trying to hang on to, wants a piece of my ass. You gotta be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

NYROCK: What’s so bad about being a star?

EMINEM: I can’t go out anymore and play basketball, because everybody knows my fuckin’ face. All I really wanted was to have a career in hip hop and now I got to deal with so much shit! There are people coming to my house, knocking on the door. Either they want autographs or they wanna fight. It’s fuckin’ crazy!

NYROCK: Not to be smart, but I think you’re getting quite an ample compensation for it. Okay, the loss of privacy is hard, but certainly you knew what was coming?

EMINEM: Nobody really understands the pressures put on me. I’m under so much fuckin’ pressure, pressure to always be good, pressure to always be on point. There are so many pressures that go with my job right now. It’s crazy. Sometimes I think I do a lot of fuckin’ crazy shit but then I don’t know what the fuck is normal. My life certainly isn’t. Maybe it never was….

NYROCK: What was your life like before you became famous?

EMINEM: Before I was famous, when I was just working in Gilbert’s Lodge, everything was moving in slow motion. Now it seems like somebody has pressed the fuckin’ fast forward button and my life just seems to be rushing by. It sometimes feels like a strange movie, you know, it’s all so weird that sometimes I wonder if it is really happening. But I tell you the fuckin’ shit feels a lot more real than the good things. That’s fuckin’ strange!

NYROCK: There has been much controversy over your liberal use of the word “faggot” and what people perceive as gay bashing. It’s put you right in the line of fire from gay and lesbian groups the world over…

EMINEM: I’m not gay bashing. People just don’t understand where I come from. “Faggot” to me doesn’t necessarily mean gay people. “Faggot” to me just means… taking away your manhood. You’re a sissy. You’re a coward. Just like you might sit around in your living room and say, “Dude, stop, you’re being a fag, dude.”

NYROCK: But you can see how it would insult homosexuals?

EMINEM: Yeah, but it does not necessarily mean you’re being a gay person. It just means you’re being a fag. You’re being an asshole or whatever. That’s the way that the word was always taught to me. That’s how I learned the word. Battling with somebody, you do anything you can to strip their manhood away.

NYROCK: Sometimes it seems that you enjoy creating a bit of ruckus. I wonder if “faggot” is really necessary …

EMINEM: I come from Detroit where it’s rough and I’m not a smooth talker. I am who I am and I say what I think. I’m not putting a face on for the record. When I started saying “faggot” on record, I started getting people going, “You have something against gay people,” and I thought it was funny. Because I don’t; I really don’t. I have something against assholes, but I’m not into gay bashing. A lot of people are too stupid to understand it.

NYROCK: Your mouth got you in quite a lot of trouble. Would it be easier to bite back some remarks, to stop the misunderstandings? It might keep people from coming to your door and trying to fight you…

EMINEM: I don’t think it would stop them. They’d think I’m a sissy and would really want to kick my ass. My thing is this; if I’m sick enough to think it, then I’m sick enough to say it. Why are these thoughts in my head? A lot of people think a lot worse shit than I do. They just don’t say it. If I’m crazy enough to think it, then I’m crazy enough to say it. So who’s worse? Come on, I mean somebody who thinks really weird fuckin’ shit, shit I really don’t want to think about. But I got nailed for saying just mildly sick shit. That’s how I base my whole shit. I think there’s a reason why I think this way. I don’t think I say the things I say for no reason. I write it down and say it. You know, I call it being honest, but some sick asshole who does sick things on the sly and doesn’t talk about it is cool?

NYROCK: I guess you’re not aiming for a career in diplomatic service…

EMINEM: Fuck no! I say what I want to say and do what I want to do. There’s no in between. People will either love you for it or hate you for it. That’s what I’ve found just on a street level – fans, and people on the street. They either can’t stand me or love me for telling the truth and saying what’s on my mind.

NYROCK: You’re a father; you have a little daughter. There has been mention in the media of lawsuits. I just want to know about your plans. Being a parent seems like a big responsibility…

EMINEM: I know and I want to be there for my daughter, whenever she needs me. I want to be with her on every step of the way, ya know. She’s the best thing that happened to me. Fuck all the fame and shit, Hailie is far more important. She keeps me from being too extreme. I realize that no matter how crazy I act onstage or how wild I may get, there’s got to be a limit. I can’t step out of a certain boundary. I have to be here for her. Her father has to remain alive. I have to maintain. She really helps me when I’m about to do something too stupid. All I have to do is think about Hailie. She keeps me in check, definitely. What can I say? I love her and a lot of shit has happened to me, but Hailie makes up for everything. In a way, she also makes up for all the fuckin’ pressure and all the shit. My daughter’s not gonna need anything the rest of her life and that makes me feel real good. Fuckin’ good!