Eminem interview: “Oh Yes, It’s Shady’s Night” (April 28, 2000)

Source: Music 365
Date: April 28, 2000
Interview title: “Oh Yes, It’s Shady’s Night”

Eminem is still the baddest boy in hip-hop. So bad, in fact, that his own mother sued him for £10 million last year after he claimed in his hit single ‘My Name Is’ that she smokes more dope than he does.

The success of ‘My Name Is’ helped the Detroit-based rapper’s controversial major label debut ‘The Slim Shady LP’ sell four million copies in the US. Eminem’s sharp, funny, fast-flowing rhymes and outrageous white-trash humour made him the most original and talked-about rapper in America.

Now he’s back with a new album cheekily-titled ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ (it’s his real name, hence the M&M-style nom-de-rap). The first single is ‘The Real Slim Shady’, on which he disses the competition and Britney Spears to boot. He’ll be premiering this and other tracks from the album when he appears at London Brixton Academy on Bank Holiday Monday (May 1). His special guest star is Dr. Dre, original gangsta and producer of ‘My Name Is’.

Interview: PAUL ELLIOT

You’re recording your new album with Dr. Dre in Los Angeles. Don’t you get distracted easily when you’re in such a lively city?

Eminem: “No, I’m focused when I’m recording. When I record I slip into the zone. I don’t like to talk a lot. I like to stick to myself and get my thoughts together, think how I’m gonna map out each song. Each song is fairly easy to write. I record vocals on one day and take the tape home to listen to them overnight. Then I do more vocals the next day. I always do my vocals twice. I might have the skeleton down, the vocals and the beat, for two months before I think of the finishing touches to put on it, like sound effects or if I want the beat to drop out here or something. I take my time on my shit that way.”

You recorded a song with Limp Bizkit but it wasn’t included on their album ‘Significant Other’. Were you pissed off?

“I wasn’t pissed. It just didn’t come out the way we wanted. I plan on having them on my next album. It’s still up in the air. We’ll see what happens.”

When you were growing up, which rapper was your biggest hero?

“I wanted to be LL Cool J, I wanted to be Run, Ad-Rock, Big Daddy Kane, a lot of people. Me and my friends used to stand in front of the mirror and perform. The kids from the neighbourhood would come around to watch. We knew all the words.”

Is 2-Pac’s ‘Me Against The World’ your favourite record?

“It’s one of them. 2-Pac was at one time my favourite rapper. 2-Pac was more of a feel emcee, a feel rapper. That’s what I’m trying to do with my new shit.”

You never met your father but it was reported that he was trying to get in touch with you following your success. Did you speak to him?

“No, I was on tour. I had a brother and sister from his side of the family. I don’t even know if he’s remarried, but they knew how to reach me all this time, they knew about me. I didn’t know about them. I don’t know them so I can’t say if they’re trying to cash in on my success, but I would say that since this success, I feel like that is the reason that they’re trying to get in touch with me.”

Are you a millionaire yet?

“I could safely say that I’m well off, but I’m not a millionaire. People see me on TV and mistake me for having more money that I actually have. I got money now, more money than I’ve ever had in my entire life, but I still don’t feel like my future is set, I still feel like I gotta work extra hard to get where I really wanna go. Shit, I still got a second album to work, possibly an acting career.”

When you were still a kid, did you really beat a man with a baseball bat when he attacked your mother?

“No, he hit me with a baseball bat. Some lady was talking shit to my mom, she came out and pointed a finger in her face, and I said, ‘you ain’t gonna touch my mother’, so some dude comes out with a bat, hit me in the stomach with it, then ran from me, and I ended up chasing him. While I was fighting him I had him down on the ground when the cops caught me. They didn’t arrest me. I told ’em that the dude hit me first and I had witnesses and that was it. That was a long time ago.”

Did you get involved in a lot of fights when you were a boy?

“I used to get beat up a lot. Fights are fights. I used to walk home by myself, go to my girl’s and see my friends, and when I walked back I got fucked with. It happened a lot. Nine times out of ten I would be walking by myself. Where I was growing up, everybody tried to test you.”

Were you ever shot?

“I been shot at, never hit. I was 16. These gang dudes were shooting at me.”

Is it still hard for a white rapper to gain respect in the hip-hop community?

“People overall respect the lyrics and they know that I know what I’m doing. They can look past the whole white rapper thing. I’m not the first and I’m not gonna be the last, but hip-hop music is always gonna be predominantly black. Everybody loves hip-hop but not everybody can do it. Black people started rock’n’roll, so how can anyone say that black people can’t do rock’n’roll now? The world is fucked up, it’s fucking stupid, man. Whether you’re latino, white, black, Asian, it don’t matter. I’m tired of hearing about the white thing. If somebody says something about it now it’s funny. I laugh it off.”

Could you live in LA or will Detroit always be your home?

“I love it out here. I love it ‘cos I don’t live here. It’s a fun place to visit but I don’t think I could ever leave Detroit, man, I got too much history there, too many roots, and plus, that’s what makes it so cool about coming out here. LA is my little getaway to record my shit and then jet back home. I also got a studio in Detroit that I can go to if it’s the middle of the night and I want to lay some shit down.

“I can’t really help when the ideas come. Most of this shit comes either when I’m laying in bed waiting to sleep, or if people are talking. If they say something, a lot of the time it’ll be the way people put words together, and they’ll be talking to me and I won’t even be listening to them because the last thing they said gave me an idea. I sit there with a blank stare and people think I’m on drugs constantly. I do that to my girl a lot. She’ll be talking to me and I’ll be like, ‘uh-huh, uh-huh’. I’ll be looking off and she’ll say, ‘You’re not even listening!’ ‘Yeah I am!’ ‘Repeat what I said!’ ‘You said, er, I don’t know what the fuck you said!’ “

You’re launching your own label now.

“Yeah, Shady Records. I just started it with Interscope. The first signing is D12, a rap group that I’m in. There’s six emcees and we each have two identities, like Eminem and Slim Shady. It’s not really similar to my shit. It is as far as the hard-edged rhyming goes, but if anything, it’s a little grittier. I don’t want to say it’s underground because people associate that with shit that doesn’t blow up, and I think D12’s got what it takes to blow. It’s just gritty. My shit is kind of sarcastic and political and Dirty Dozen shit is on some criminal type shit, you know what I’m sayin’? They’re on some more gun-bustin’ and shootin’ and stabbin’ shit, a little more so than I am, if you can believe that.”

You’ve revealed a lot of your personal life in your songs. Do you regret anything you’ve said?

“No, I don’t regret any of it. I really believe in that shit, man. I don’t believe in talking behind nobody’s back or being fake. It’s fun for me to do that. When I write something I don’t hold back, there’s no holds barred. And whatever the consequences may be, if I offend anyone or whatever, I’m saying it so I’m willing to deal with it. I don’t know if anybody does it like me, saying whatever they want to say. If I’m feeling it, then I’m gonna say it. Flat out. I’m not mad. I leave my anger in the studio. I get all my shit out on the mic, I say what the fuck I gotta say, and then I’m done. I can go home and sleep I got it all off my chest. I put it out. Music is a form of expression.”

What do your fans think of you when they meet you?

“There’s kids who meet me who say they were scared to meet me, they thought I was gonna bite their head off. I’m like, Who the fuck am I? All I do is make music, and I’m doing the same thing I been doing since I was 16 years old. I ain’t changed shit, and all these fans and shit is kinda crazy to me.”

What do you think of all the white rock guys acting like black rappers — people like Kid Rock and Korn?

“I like it. I don’t listen to it every day. I like Bob, Kid Rock. He was a friend of mine. I respect what he’s doing, he’s being himself.”

Is Dre producing all of the new album?

“He’s doing a lot more than he was. He did three tracks on the last album. He’s got at least seven on this one and we ain’t even finished the work we’re doing. Dre has been so busy with his own album. He’s been mixing it down and shit, but as soon as he’s finished, we’re gonna start getting in there and knocking shit out like we did the last one. We got in there a couple of times and knocked out a couple of songs. I had the songs written, we just did the beats in the studio.

“I get a lot of sporadic shit – shit will just hit me. I can never sit down and search for rhymes. I mean, I can, but I don’t really like to do that. It comes out better when I let it hit me instead of trying to search. I would definitely say that the tracks I’ve done are killing this first album. That’s the way I feel. If you don’t upstep the game every time you come out, if you don’t make your album better than your last one, then you shouldn’t even be in the game. I definitely feel that this album is topping the last one.

“You see it all the time, especially in hip-hop. Somebody will make a good first album and then the next album will be shit. I feel like lyrically, I’m too smart to fall into that trap. Ideas come to me constantly. I’m not somebody who’s limited, who put all his ideas on one album. I constantly keep runnin’.”

How do you feel now about your first album?

“The ‘Infinite’ album? I realise it’s there, I did it, but I wasn’t really experienced enough to know what to do in the studio. There was only 1,000 tapes pressed up of that shit. I think you can look it up on the internet and get it, and if you do, it’ll be a bootleg.”

Your uncle Ronnie committed suicide. Have your ever felt so low that you wanted to end it all?

“That’s always been something that’s been in the back of my mind, but I don’t think I have the balls to do it. There was this one time when I really felt like I wanted to do something to change my life, whether it would be doing something I regretted, or with rap or whatever. I was recording the song ‘Rock Bottom’. We had just found out we were supposed to be getting this deal from some record label — I’m not gonna say which — and we found out that this guy who was saying he was gonna get us the deal was working in the mail room and he was nobody.

“A bunch of other personal shit was happening in my life right about then, and I just thought I wasn’t gonna get a deal no matter what, and I just took a fucking bunch of pills. I puked the shit up. I didn’t have to go to hospital but my fucking stomach hurt so bad. I had a little problem and I just took too many. I don’t know if I was necessarily trying to kill myself, I was just really depressed and I kept thinking, more pills, more pills, I just kept taking ’em. I bet I took 20 pills in the course of two hours, Tylenol 3s. That’s why I like going back and listening to my album and thinking of what I was feeling back then.”

Is ‘Rock Bottom’ your most personal song?

“That and ‘If I Have’, but I got songs on this next album that are even more personal and go even deeper into that shit. I’m going a little bit more of a serious route now. My shit was real political but people didn’t see it like that, they thought I was just being an asshole. I look at the way I came up and the things I was around and the places I was raised and shit, and I figure, that shit made me what I am. So if people perceive me to be an asshole, the way I live made me an asshole, what I been through has made me an asshole.”

There was a rumour that you had recorded a song with Marilyn Manson — a prequel to the controversial track ”97 Bonnie & Clyde’…

“With Marilyn Manson? Nah, rumours, rumours. But yeah, the track is done. I don’t want to give it away, I’ll just say it’s like some movie shit. I got a lot of songs on this album that are like movie plots, twisted stories.”

Your little girl Hailie Jade is four this Christmas. Do you still speak to her every day?

“I just got off the phone with her a little bit ago. She’s talking up a storm, man, she talks a lot. I want to try to get her into some kind of acting or something, she got this little personality that’s incredible. She loves to talk. She’ll say shit out of the blue, big words that I didn’t even know she knew. She’ll look at it as a joke.”

Are you still writing songs on Ecstasy?

“A couple of the songs on the new record were written on X. It exaggerates shit. Somebody will be just looking at me wrong and I’ll just flip a table over, like, what the fuck are you staring at?! If you’re in a good mood you love everybody, but if you’re in a bad mood and you got shit on your mind, you’re gonna break down and shit. The hardest shit that I’ve fucked with is X and ‘shrooms.”

A music industry commentator once claimed that you were making money exploiting the world’s misery. Isn’t it more accurate to say that you’re making money exploiting your own misery?

“That woulda been a better choice of words, but looking at him, I don’t think he was able to come up with a good choice of words. Looking at his picture I expected him to say that about me. If people don’t like my shit it’s not my problem. If you don’t like it don’t listen to it. Nobody’s fucking forcing you to listen to it. Nobody bought you the album, threw it in your CD, tied you up and made you listen.”

– By Music 365 (April 28, 2000)