When it comes to Eminem, a lot of backstory probably isn't necessary. Especially in Detroit. But, really, that's pretty much true anywhere in the civilized Western world (and I'd be surprised if he hasn't been used by al-Qaeda or some organization like that somewhere along the way as a symbol of Western decadence; God knows he's been used as a symbol and example of such in his own country enough times since he became a pop superstar and phenomenon).
But, I mean, hell, my mom knows who Eminem is. Five years away from the spotlight is a long time, sometimes a lifetime, in modern pop culture. And that's how long it's been since he's released an album. During that time, however, 8 Mile seemed to be playing almost constantly on cable TV. His music was still being played everywhere. And just last year, Vibe magazine, in a poll, named him the "Best Rapper Alive" ... which was just another accolade the multi-Grammy- and Oscar-winner could place alongside Rolling Stone's proclamation that Eminem is "the biggest rapper in history." Yep. Dude's a superstar in the truest sense of the term, a real working-class hero, as John Lennon once put it.
And he's from Detroit, something the man born Marshall Mathers 36 years ago never lets anybody forget — something he actually celebrates. He even appeared in a PSA about Detroit's woes and beauty during the recent network-televised Final Four basketball tournament.
Despite the media portraying him as the devil at various points in his career — just the latest in a long line of anti-heroes here to steal your children's souls and minds — there always seemed to be something more just below the surface with this guy. As an anonymous poster recently wrote on a music chat board I visit, Slim Shady — Eminem's musical alter ego — is like a Shakespearean fool; there's often a lot of wisdom, even a genius, underneath his apparently mad ravings. In fact, in many ways, it could be argued that he was the first to bring a humanistic, even a more literary side, to hip hop that wasn't really there before — less false braggadocio and a lot more confessional technique, probably more of the latter than any rapper before him or since.
Behind all the violent talk and "offensive" humor, there was also an obvious sensitive side at play. It's very evident in his autobiographical 8 Mile character, of course. It's also there in the way he talks about his children in interviews. There's a very poignant story in his autobiography, What I Am, published late last year, about how ashamed he was as a child in the lunch line at school when the other kids would overhear that he was a welfare student who got free lunches from the state. Behind the swagger and cockiness, this was someone who'd obviously suffered, someone who knows what it's like to be picked on, to be the underdog. Maybe that's why he was accepted by all cultures and ethnicities in the hip-hop world (and that couldn't have been easy, particularly coming in the wake of Vanilla Ice, who almost single-handedly destroyed any inroads the Beastie Boys had made for white emcees).
In case you haven't heard yet — and you'd almost have to be a hermit with no access to the Internet or any media to have not heard — Slim Shady returns next Tuesday, May 19, with a new album titled Relapse. The record finds him working with Dr. Dre as his producer again; reports from the few people who've heard it suggest it's a return to Eminem's earlier style and form. (There's supposed to be a second album, Relapse 2, coming out before the end of this year as well.) Three tracks from the disc have already hit the streets — "Crack a Bottle" (featuring Dre and Em's protégé 50 Cent), the grand "We Made You," and the just-released return to Slim Shady "horrorcore" tune, "3 A.M."
The new tune should get the good old controversy going for the artist again, although the hilarious video for "We Made You" — which lampoons and then totally destroys modern pop culture "icons" — already achieved that when Fox News host Bill O'Reilly condemned Em for the video's portrayal of Sarah Palin, and then attacked the media for not taking the rapper to task for his treatment of the former Republican vice-presidential candidate. "Eminem is obviously on an obscene rant about Sarah Palin," O'Reilly said during one of his broadcasts. "Totally obscene. Totally inappropriate. Nothing good about it. The video means nothing," the old blowhard continued. "It plays before kids who are confused. But the hypocrisy and the dishonesty of the media does mean something in this country. It is out of control and is demonstrable by this." (Of course, Bill O' Reilly — or any Fox News figure, for that matter — calling the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the media into question should be an irony missed by no one.)
In Em's five years away from the spotlight, he suffered his fair share of tragedy and setbacks. His best friend and hip-hop mentor, Proof, was shot and killed in a senseless argument outside a Detroit nightclub. His often volatile marriage to his wife, Kim, ended in divorce (last year's autobiography indicated that they're now on good terms, raising their daughters together). And the title of the new album refers, of course, to his recent battles with substance abuse and addiction. It took two stays in rehab for him to finally kick the habit. As he writes in a first-person narrative for Vibe Magazine in a cover story that's also being published this week: "Now that I understand that I'm an addict, I definitely have compassion for my mother. I get it."
Truthfully, we never seriously believed that this Metro Times interview would take place. There was reportedly some bad blood between Eminem and this publication in the past, long before I got here. But as far as I'm concerned, for my money, Eminem's one of the greatest brands and exports Detroit has going for it these days. So we lobbied hard. And two weeks before the release of Relapse, Marshall Mathers, Slim Shady, gave us a call late one chilly Thursday afternoon.
METRO TIMES: Since I've returned to Detroit, I've become an even bigger fan of yours, especially due to your pride in the city. John Smyntek, the gossip columnist at the Detroit Free Press, wrote in his farewell column that no major Detroit personality had more potshots thrown at them than you did over the years. And yet, you have remained loyal and dedicated to this city. There are other hometown stars who have nothing good to say about Detroit at this point. You could live anywhere in the world. So what is it about Detroit that's so close to your heart?
EMINEM: Oh, man. Well, I do think, one, I'm a creature of habit. You know? I'm just so comfortable here. It's where I grew up. It's where I basically spent all my teenage years. And it's just that I don't live too far from where I spent those years. I can always go back and revisit my old neighborhood any time I want. And stuff like that is very important. Even if I just want to drive by one of my old houses or something. You know? Just drive by and look at places where I came up. It brings back memories for me. And there are a lot of memories I have here in Detroit. I'm just so comfortable here, I guess.
MT: I've read that Relapse, the new LP, harks back to a simpler time for you. I'm curious as to whether nostalgia played any role in the creation of the new album, particularly nostalgia for Detroit?
EMINEM: Hmmm. Nostalgia ... [laughs]
MT: In the sense of looking back at your past?
EMINEM: In the sense of looking back at my past ... I'm sorry. Can you repeat the question?
MT: Sure. I've read that the new album, Relapse ...
EMINEM: Oh! OK, I get what you're saying. Yeah. Well, conceptually and musically, the new album does go back. I don't know if it's nostalgia but the record probably feels like maybe somewhere along the lines of the first two records. You know? I guess in that sense of nostalgia or whatever, it's like it's kinda going back to the feel of those two records — the Slim Shady LP and the Marshall Mathers LP.
MT: What are your feelings about the current plight of Detroit's auto heritage and blue-collar workers, both part of your lineage? And how do you see the city's future?
EMINEM: Well, I don't really know how I see the future. I mean, I really wish I had an answer for what's going on here right now, you know? It really is kinda complicated for me when I look at it. But it just kinda pisses me off a little bit when people, like, I guess, refer to this city or look at this city as a whole. When you look at the crumbling auto industry ... [sighs] you see and hear people blaming the auto executives and shit like that for mismanaging the companies and, you know, putting money in their own pockets and taking too big of salaries and shit like that. But I don't know if people outside of Detroit realize, OK, yeah, that did happen and, yeah, they made some bad decisions. But in the long run, who is it affecting? Well, the real people of this city who are losing their jobs. They're the ones who are being affected by this daily. It's a really complicated situation because everyone is just pointing fingers right now. But the truth is it's fucking up the lives of real people here. You know what I mean?
MT: This might be too lofty of a question, but what role, if any, would you like to play in the city's future? Or do you think that's beyond your concerns?
EMINEM: Well, I don't know that it's beyond my concerns. But I don't really know how to answer that or what role I'd like to play in this city. That, that ... it's a little ...
MT: Yeah, I understand. It does seem, though, that music is still one of the few Detroit exports that people care about. And you are a Detroit institution. People can't think Eminem without thinking Detroit. So at least that's a positive.
EMINEM: Yeah. Well, hopefully, that's a good association. I guess it is.
MT: Even though the album harks back to your earlier stuff and maybe better times, during the last couple of years, there's been a lot of pain in your life. Proof's death. Your drug problems. There's an old cliché that says pain is the best and truest teacher. Have you learned anything important from the pain you've experienced since the last record?
EMINEM: Well, I don't know that I've learned anything. ... Well, you know, I guess I've actually learned quite a bit. As far as Proof passing away, I've gotten a little better at dealing with it. I guess as time goes by, you get a little better at dealing with something like that. And I've certainly learned from my own experiences with addiction. I don't know if this is gonna answer the question for you or not — but I've learned that you certainly can't get sober just because everyone else wants you to. You have to want to do it yourself. You know what I mean? When I first went into rehab, I kinda felt like I was doing it just because everyone else was ready for me to get sober. But I wasn't. And that is why I relapsed when I came out of treatment. When I came out of rehab. And it was because I just wasn't ready. I had to actually be ready, mentally, to say, "I'm done with this now. I've had enough."
In response to losing Proof, I've also just learned that no matter what — no matter how much I want to beat myself up over what happened, the wish that I could have done something or have been there or done something to change the course of what happened — nothing that I do or say or wish is gonna bring Proof back. So I've just kinda finally come to that realization. I don't know if I can ever totally accept his death. But I'm certainly getting better at coping with it.
You know, just a couple of days ago was pretty rough for me. When I'm doing something like getting back into performing again and shit like that — you know going onstage again and stuff like that, it just feels really empty. Those are the days when I really miss him. So, you know, I do still have my days with it. I have good days and bad days with it. But I'm certainly getting a little better at coping with the loss.
MT: Some people have suggested that Proof's death was, in some ways, the end of classic Detroit hip hop as we knew it. Or at least it shifted things into a more fragmented hip-hop scene. Do you think that's true?
EMINEM: Well, I mean losing Proof ... [sighs] Proof was so much to Detroit in so many different ways. And he meant so much to so many different people in so many different ways. Proof was like ... I heard someone describe Proof once as like a comet. And he was like a comet because you only get to see it once in a lifetime. That made a lot of sense to me. Because it's true. You know, there will only be one Proof. And Proof was so much to this city in so many different ways. His spirit. In many ways, he just kinda was Detroit.
MT: One of the things that was interesting in your autobiography is when you're discussing the topic of guns and you wrote: "guns are bad." I'm wondering if you're happy to see hip hop and rap in general kind of moving away from the "gangsta" element.
EMINEM: Um, well, do you think it is moving away from that? I guess, in a sense, it does kinda feel like that, doesn't it?
MT: Yeah. And I think you're partially responsible for that because you brought a more humanistic sense to the form.
EMINEM: Well, that would be good. But for me, personally, I mean, I'm done with guns. You know what I mean? They certainly never ever brought anything good into my life. Especially with my own family and our history [of suicide] and shit like that. And my own personal experience with guns. And then you lose your best friend to guns. ... No. Guns are just bad news.
MT: I thought it was really good that you put that in the book so that kids read that. Are there any contemporary Detroit artists that you're into?
EMINEM: Well, honestly. ... Actually, I've been hearing a lot about ... Black Milk?
MT: Yeah, he's good.
EMINEM: Yeah. I just recently heard a song ... let me see, like last week, I think it was. But I haven't had a chance to really listen to a lot lately. It's only in the last couple of weeks that I stepped away from everything and put the pen down. So I've been like trying to get back into recent music. Because when I'm in work mode — when I'm actually writing lyrics and working on an album — I don't really listen to anybody else's records. That's just because I don't want to subconsciously take a flow or something from someone else, you know what I mean? I still want to make sure I sound like no one else when I rap. So I purposely stayed away a little bit from what's been going on in hip hop. And I'm trying to play catch up right now, especially with Detroit hip hop. So it's not really fair for me to give you a good answer on that as of right now. In other words, I might need a couple of more weeks to listen and then I'll be able to give a better answer on that.
MT: I heard that you were in [the Eastpointe record store] Melodies & Memories a few weeks ago and that you bought a whole bunch of CDs. Someone said like $3,000 worth. I thought that was really cool when I heard that. You're giving back to the mom-and-pop stores, which is really cool, and you're supporting other people's music.
EMINEM: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I went in there ... let me think ... that was really more like four or five months ago, actually.
MT: Oh, OK.
EMINEM: What I did was I bought a whole bunch of CDs, right? I bought like everything that was new. Everything that had just come out. And then I never got a chance to listen to it! So I've been taking like an album every day, a new CD with me every day. And then I put it in the car so I can listen to it on my ride to and from the studio. And I'm totally trying to play catch-up that way.
So it's really funny that you bring that up because all those CDs ... well, most of them have literally been sitting inside my CD drawers unopened since then. And I'm just now taking like one out a day and trying to play catch-up.
MT: When you say you bought all new stuff, was it just hip hop or was it a wide variety of stuff?
EMINEM: Uh ... probably just hip hop.
MT: A lot of the early press for Relapse is claiming that it's "a return to form." I even recently saw a headline that read: "Can Eminem Save Hip-Hop?" How does that sit with you? Do you think that's a little bit too much pressure?
EMINEM: Yeah! I'm mean, like, how can I save hip-hop? Hip-hop hasn't gone anywhere! [laughs] I mean, you know. Hip hop is hip hop. I don't know. I certainly wouldn't want the pressure of trying to be a hip-hop savior or anything like that. I'm just now back at a point where I'm having fun again with rap. You know what I mean? Because for a few years there, I kinda lost my way in that sense. I kinda forgot how to have fun with it. And I'm just now learning how to do that again. So I am having fun with writing songs and recording and shit like that. I'm having fun again with music so, yeah, but I'm not out to save it. ...
MT: Well, you know, it has been important to other artists who were at the same level of phenomenal superstardom that you achieved. Michael Jackson and Axl Rose are two of the examples where they needed to create something that's as big as what they created in the past and it drove both of them insane. Does that really matter to you at this point in time? Maintaining that same level of stardom? Or are you just in it more for your art at this point?
EMINEM: That's exactly why I'm in it. I mean, you pretty much just answered your own question with that. I guess I'm just at a point right now where I'm content. My life is different now, as far as, like, trying to compete with anyone else or trying to be anything other than an artist. I just want to put it out there and let people hear the music.
MT: That's great. Since I haven't heard the album yet — I guess hardly anybody's heard the album except the cuts that have been released — what are you proudest of on this new album? And was it hard to get back into the groove after five years away?
EMINEM: Well, I'm actually proud of everything on this record, every song that's on there. Otherwise, I guess I wouldn't have put them on the record! But to answer the second question, yeah, I think that it was hard. The hardest thing for me is that I went through, like, a two-year period where I had writer's block. I literally couldn't write anything. And if I did write something and then recorded it, it was never good enough. I would sit down and listen to it over and over again, trying to find something good about it. And it just felt to me like ... well, I always had the reaction of "Uhhh, this is not me!" I mean, it certainly wasn't up to my own standards that I had set for myself. But I started to come out of the writer's block somewhere around June and July of last year. It wasn't that it was that hard. I think I had to teach myself again. I think I had to actually relearn how to write songs again. And so I was doing little exercises to come out of that writer's block, like writing a new rhyme a day and trying to do little exercises, like mental things to just get me out of it. But right around June and July, when I started coming up with the Relapse concept, things started to click. I kinda knew what I was gonna talk about. I was done with the drugs and everything else and I got to a point where I was OK with talking about that part of my life. And so I think it just kinda morphed into its own thing. I felt I could have fun with it. So from that point on, it wasn't really hard anymore. It was just fun.
MT: That's the key. That's great. The new "We Made You" video is one of the most hilarious fucking things I've seen in a long time. The song itself is great — but the video made me laugh. It's almost like you're bringing about a rebirth of the music video. But I think there's deeper stuff there. You tell me if I'm reading too much into it — but in the past, Eminem, especially the Slim Shady character, was always painted as this villain in pop culture. And yet in this video, you're mocking all these current iconic "heroes" in modern culture. But it's like these lame idiots are the heroes and icons of today. And it's like, "Well, who are the real villains here?" Or am I reading too much into it?
EMINEM: Maybe you're not. Because I wanted to be like a villain in the video. Well, put it this way — the original video treatment was for me to kinda be a serial killer and just going around and knocking off all these current pop stars. But there wasn't really a way to put that into a format. I mean, Kim Kardashian does get tossed into a wood chipper, but that was pretty much as far as we could go, the most we could get away with.
But like even Portia [de Rossi], Ellen DeGeneres' wife — like charley-horsing her in the leg. You know, there's only so much you can do. So we couldn't really just paint a portrait of me being like this like pop star serial killer, which was the original concept. But, you know, for the most part, I'm probably going to go back to being the villain again.
MT: You portray Elvis Presley in the video. It seems like he's one of the people who you're really not making fun of. And, of course, you refer to Elvis in your song, "Without Me." I may be wrong about this, but it seems like you may identify with him a little bit. Is that the case? Are you an Elvis fan at all?
EMINEM: Um, no. I never was really an Elvis fan. I'll tell you one thing, though. One respect I do have for that guy was that ... well, obviously he was a great artist but I was just never really into his music. But I'll tell you something — that motherfucker could dance! When I was trying to learn that "Jailhouse Rock" shit [for the video], I was like "Man, this fuckin' guy could dance!!"
MT: So who have you learned the most from in your life? And is there anybody's career that you look to for support and insight at this point in time?
EMINEM: [pause] Um, well, Elton John. I talk to Elton a lot. We became friends and I talk to him about things, career wise. And he had a substance abuse problem in the past. So when I first wanted to get sober, I called him and spoke to him about it because, you know, he's somebody who's in the business and can identify and relate to the lifestyle and how hectic things can be. He understands like the pressure and any other reasons that you wanna come up with for doing drugs, you know.
Me and him have had similar lives and stuff. So I reached out to him and told him, "Look, I'm going through a problem and I need your advice." I also talked to T.I. a lot and, you know, we exchange advice.
MT: How's he handling all that's going on with him now? Going to prison for a year would be tough. Is he doing OK?
EMINEM: Well, to be honest with you, we haven't really had an in-depth discussion about that. Just because when I was talking to him, I don't know if the conversation was — how can I say it? — I didn't know for sure if it was going to be monitored, when he first got into the legalities and everything, when he first got into the trouble he got in. But I would call him and just make sure that he was keeping his head up. But I really didn't want to say anything to him about the situation he was going through at that time, just in case his calls were being monitored or anything like that. So we never really had an in-depth discussion about it, but every time I talked to him, he seemed to be taking it, I guess, as good as somebody can. For what's happened to him, I mean he's, um ... you know he's, uh .... Man, I'm looking for the word but I can't even find it. He's certainly being a man about it. He's being a trouper.
MT: It's interesting that you mention Elton John because one of my favorite parts in your book is when you write about doing the duet with him at the Grammys right after the "gay" controversy. One of the best sentences in the book is: "What people do in their bedrooms is their own business." I just wish the fucking Republicans would learn that. A few years ago, right before Bush went in for the second time, you did that video with George W. Bush in it. And in the new video, you lampoon Sarah Palin. Have you ever thought about getting more political? And what did you think about that nitwit Bill O'Reilly condemning you for the Palin thing?
EMINEM: Well, as far as getting too political, I've never really been that kind of guy. Like, I mean, I've always stood up for freedom of speech. I'm definitely a strong advocate of shit like that. But I've never really tried to get too political. I know I wrote that song — the "Mosh" song was kinda geared towards that. But that was just because I fucking hated Bush. You know? Just anything I could do to help try to get that guy out of office was a good thing. And ... what was the second part of the question? Oh, yeah, Bill O'Reilly.
MT: Yeah, Bill O'Reilly.
EMINEM: Um ... well, that guy's a turd.
MT: [laughs] I hate him....
EMINEM: I don't know of a better way to put it than to just say he's a turd.
MT: It seems also in the book that we saw a more grown-up or adult element to Eminem. Controversy is still obviously going to hound you because that's just the nature of the beast. The O'Reilly thing proves that. But I'm wondering if Eminem, the father and the humanist, has finally caught up with Eminem the artist?
EMINEM: I don't know about that. You might wanna listen to the record first! [laughs]
MT: OK [laughs]. Well, you know, there are so many parts of the book that are just genuinely touching. They reveal you have a genuinely good heart — like when you and Proof helped that little girl who was stranded in the airport. Stuff like that. I guess what I'm wondering is if there's a change in image. I just read yesterday that you are going to be in a new movie this summer, and you can't say anything about it, but that it's a Disney movie. So, I thought, well, "That has got to be Eminem the dad coming into focus there."
EMINEM: No, it's not a Disney movie! [laughs]
MT: OK. Well, then let's forget that. [laughs]
EMINEM: I was just being sarcastic. [laughs] Yeah, I'm alongside Hanna Montana in my new short film!
MT: Yeah, Slim Shady and Hanna Montana! You've been like the most confessional rapper in history. A lot of your real personal life has ended up in your lyrics. Now, I know Slim Shady is like an alter ego and there's definitely bits of Marshall Mathers in there. But would you agree that Slim Shady is a little bit like the hip-hop version of Alice Cooper? And what is your relationship with the Slim Shady character now after all these years?
EMINEM: Well, as far as him being like an Alice Cooper character or whatever like you said, well, it kinda is like that in a sense. He's this character I created through music, just like an actor or actress would create a character when they're on the screen. So it does give me the excuse and freedom to then say a lot of fucked-up shit [laughs]. You know what I mean?
EMINEM: And at the end of the day, it's like a mix and I can certainly mix in the sense of humor that I have — the kind of warped, twisted and distorted view that I have on things and the sense of humor I have. So it really is just a character I'm playing and I guess if you mix me and Slim Shady together... I mean, it's a persona. Do I really think that way in real life about everything I talk about? No, I don't. But does my mind work in a way where I can think of some fucked-up shit and just kinda blurt it out? Yes. Definitely. You know?
MT: Right. It is interesting on that front because you got so much shit — just as most rap did — over the years. And yet some of your themes ... like anger toward women, well, that was always part of the blues tradition. It was also evident in rock acts like the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello. They all expressed anger at women too. Yet you got shit for it. You also got shit over the years for "borrowing" from others. But the greatest musical artists in history have always taken from others, made a hybrid and created something greater in the process with what surrounds them. Why do you think you were picked on so much? I've noticed since I've been back here that there's a lot of jealousy in Detroit. Do you think that that led to some of the criticism and attacks?
EMINEM: I don't know. I really don't know. Can you repeat the first part of the question?
MT: Yeah. Well, I was just saying, why do you ...
EMINEM: Why do I think I got picked on so much?
MT: Yeah, yeah.
EMINEM: You know something? I really don't know. I kinda think about this point every now and then and I still don't understand. There are other artists that have used the word "faggot" in their work. There are other artists who say certain things that have always been around. So why, then, when I say it is it any different?
Yeah, I have kinda always wondered that. Why is it different when I'm saying it? Let's say if I say something fucked up about Christopher Reeve, you know what I mean? Just something totally off-the-cuff. That's really fucked up, but how is it any different than what South Park is doing? Or Family Guy? I've always kinda felt, like, why am I special? Why am I that person who's always looked at and where the microscope comes out? I still, to this day, don't understand that. I guess it's just that I get a lot of attention, I don't know! It's very hard to say. I guess that maybe when I speak, I seem to draw the flies. [laughs]
MT: Well, again, maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it seems like you are addressing that in the new video when you're lampooning modern pop and rock culture. You know? As far as I'm concerned, even at your most Slim Shady worst, you were never as creepy as, say, Bret Michaels!
EMINEM: [laughs hard] That's funny, man!
EMINEM: You know when we were making that video there was the thing with Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo. And the Cowboys are actually my favorite team. So Tony Romo is one of my favorite quarterbacks. I don't think he's my favorite — but he's certainly one of my favorites. So I felt kinda conflicted doing the Jessica thing. Because we were gonna have a Jessica in the video. When I say, "Jessica Simpson, sing the chorus," we were gonna have a chick who looked like Jessica Simpson come out and sing the chorus. But then Jessica got fat. I mean, not really fat but she certainly got fat for ... well, Jessica Simpson got fat for Jessica Simpson! You know what I mean? And we wanted to stay within the current of what's going on right now in pop culture. Because I think that my videos are little time capsules. Usually my first singles off of each record are little time capsules of what's going on in pop culture right at that moment.
So I've always wanted people to be able to look back at each video and go, "Oh, remember what was going on at that moment!" You know what I mean? "Oh, that's when Jessica Simpson got fat." "Oh, OK!" And even if she gets thin again, that's fine. But for that moment in time, she was fat. But then I started thinking, like, "Man!" I was telling [manager and former Detroiter] Paul [Rosenberg] and everyone around me, "Man, I don't wanna piss Tony Romo off and he starts throwing games for the Cowboys!"
MT: [laughs] That's great. Again, you're one of the most confessional rappers in history. In retrospect, if you had to do it over again, would you have been as confessional in your lyrics?
EMINEM: Yeah, I definitely would because even though I've pretty much put a lot of my personal life out there, my music was always the outlet for me to get through whatever I was going through at the time. And when I put it down on paper, and when I say it in the studio, it's always been therapy for me. You know? It's like this is what I'm feeling. This is what I wanna say. And this is how I'm gonna get it out. And, you know, you put it out there to the world and whoever listens, listens. And if nobody listens, that's fine too. But this is how I'm feeling right now. And it's like I can go back and listen to each song off of each record and remember exactly what I was going through at that particular moment. And exactly how I was feeling.
MT: Do you have any relationship with any other current Detroit music stars? Have you ever talked to Kid Rock? Ever met Jack White?
EMINEM: No, never met Jack White. But I do have a pretty good relationship with Kid Rock. I mean, you know, we hang out every now and then. We probably haven't hung out during the past year or so. Maybe two years. But, you know, I see him quite a bit. He'll come over my house, I've played basketball with him, you know? But, yeah, me and Bob are pretty good friends.
MT: In the book, you write that you were influenced by the Beastie Boys and I know you recently inducted Run DMC into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What do you make of rappers like Asher Roth, whose sound was obviously influenced by the Slim Shady album? There are other current artists who've also obviously been influenced by you. Does that make you feel good? Or do you even care?
EMINEM: Well, Asher Roth has actually said, I think, in a song that he was influenced by me. And that's fine. I feel great when other artists are influenced by me. I mean, it's certainly flattering. But as far as people saying he sounds like me and shit like that, well, I got his album and I don't think it sounds anything like me. I was just listening to it the other day, in fact. That's one of the "catch-up" music things I mentioned earlier. I really wanted to check him out because people have been telling me to check him out. And I think the kid is dope. I think he's good and I don't think he sounds like me. It's kinda sad that just because he's white and he raps, then he's automatically gonna get that.
MT: Well, I think people just need labels to latch onto. You say in the book that one of your goals was to use hip hop to bring people together and to lessen racial tension. I really think you succeeded at that in many ways. But I'm just curious: There was that piece in The Source all those years ago about Champtown and him accusing you of racism and all that shit. Does that still bother you? Are there any repercussions from that still? Or is that all in the past now?
EMINEM: I just feel like I've tried to put all my beefs and all those kinda things behind me now. Everything from The Source beef and all that shit. I'm just trying to like move forward now. Especially, you know, with sobriety and everything. I just wanna move forward.
MT: Cool. Last question for you. What's an average day in the life of Eminem like these days when you're not working? When you're just at home. ...
EMINEM: Umm. An average day would be just ... uh, when I'm not working?
MT: Yeah. When you're just hanging at home.
EMINEM: [laughs] Well, you know, I work quite a bit. But when I'm not working, I'm just hanging out with my kids and watching TV, you know? Not really anything spectacular. I get up in the mornings and I run. I run quite a bit these days.
MT: Well, you look great. You do look like you're in great health.
EMINEM: Oh, thanks. I just run a lot. I exercise a lot and just eat right. You know, watch what I eat and count calories and all that good, fun stuff. [laughs]
MT: Are you going to tour on this album?
EMINEM: I don't know. I haven't really got that far; haven't gotten far enough to really discuss it yet. But I really don't know at this point. I guess I have to wait to see what comes up, and what the demand [for the album] may be.
MT: Right. Well, the demand will be great. Listen, Marshall, thank you so much for doing this. We really appreciate it and much good luck to you. I love the new single and I'm looking forward to the album.
EMINEM: Alright. Thank you. I appreciate it, Bill. Bye.
Bill Holdship is music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
Thanks to editorial intern Nathan Michael Stemen for assistance beyond the call of duty.