After performing with Elton John at the Grammys, Eminem believes he has answered those who have labeled the rapper as a homophobe.
“If I didn’t make a statement with Elton John tonight, I don’t know what else to do,” Eminem told MTV News’ Kurt Loder following his performance of “Stan” at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards, held Wednesday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I came to make an impact, I came to make a statement, and I guess to piss some people off,” Eminem said. “The statement I was trying to make sort of got blown, though. We were trying to keep it under wraps that I was going to perform with Elton, but the rumor came about and it got so full-blown that it wasn’t a surprise anymore. So I think the biggest impact came in seeing us onstage together.”
Eminem said he was unaware John was gay when the idea for the Grammy duet was first proposed, but felt that John’s onstage presence was the only proper way to address the criticisms levied against him by such groups as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
The rapper discovered he had a big fan in John, who has been honored by GLAAD, after being asked about glowing comments John had made about The Marshall Mathers LP as Eminem was touring the U.K. last summer.
“People that were interviewing me over in the U.K. started talking about it to me and bringing it up,” Em said, “and it’s like, ‘What do you think about Elton John saying this and that about you?’ And I was like, ‘He did? OK.’ Then I read the articles where he actually had my back on stuff, and it was cool. I was like, ‘OK, well, I really respect Elton.’
“Of course I’d heard of Elton John,” Eminem said, “but I didn’t know he was gay. I didn’t know anything about his personal life. I didn’t really care, but being that he was gay and he had my back, I think it made a statement in itself saying that he understood where I was coming from.”
GLAAD staged a modest protest on Wednesday outside the Staples Center, but inside Eminem took home three of the four Grammys he was nominated for, including Best Rap Album for The Marshall Mathers LP.
Although he lost out to Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature for Album of the Year, Eminem admitted he was grateful to win the awards — even though he infamously dissed them in “The Real Slim Shady,” which took home the award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
The awards will one day help him explain to his daughter, Hailie Jade, why he spent so much time during the past two years on the road and in the recording studio, he said.
“The main thing I started this whole career based on was acceptance and respect,” Eminem said. “So I guess if trophies mean respect or whatever, it’s cool. I’ve got this trophy case at home that I try and keep my accomplishments in, just so that Hailie can see these things when she gets older and realizes that Daddy wasn’t just gone to be gone.”
For more from Eminem’s conversation with Kurt Loder, check out the MTV News Feature Interview “Eminem: I Came To Make A Statement.”
And for a full look at Grammy night, with scenes from the red carpet, the show, protests, and more from MTV News’ interview with Eminem, be sure to check out “An MTV News Now Special Report: Grammy Hangover,” premiering at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Friday (February 23).