Last week Eminem was a little uneasy about the fact that bootlegging had
pressured Interscope to release his much-hyped The Eminem Show way
ahead of schedule.
Would such a hasty move screw up his game plan? Well, 1.6 million records sold later (see "Eminem Show Gets An Encore At #1"), Em can relax — not that he was really sweating how many units he was gonna move.
"I don't ever buy into the pressure of trying to top my last album for
record sales," he said, cruising around Manhattan on top of a double-decker
bus. "The pressure comes from trying to top it lyrically and
production-wise. Because if I'm not advancing and growing in this music,
then I might as well just quit."
With the accolades pouring in for his latest opus, Em won't be retiring his
jersey anytime soon. And while he continues to catch ears with his word
juggling, Eminem's production skills on The Eminem Show are also
gaining a lot of attention. Although Dre contributed three beats, Slim Shady decided to make his most of own tracks instead of relying heavily on the Doc's g-funk.
"Dre is always open," Em explained a few weeks before his album came out.
"He lets me experiment, which is dope 'cause if I bring something to him
that's wack, he's gonna tell me. At the same time I wanted to show him,
'Look, this is what I learned from you. You taught me that. ' "
Still, he turned to the Doc for guidance here and there.
"Dre really helped me on 'Hailie's Song,' " he said. "I had remixed it, and
it took me like a week, and I took it to him. Dre's got this little saying,
if he doesn't like something he'll turn it off and be like, 'Straight R&B,
straight R&B.' You're like, 'Damn.' Then he'll be like, 'Look, this is what
we need to do to change it.' And thank God he helped me on that song. We
remixed it. It came out a lot better."
Elsewhere he was guided simply by his own vision and a little help
from the past.
"Seventies rock had a feel to it it was crazy. When I go back and
listen to it, like Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix or Aerosmith, there was a
feel that '70s rock had that was incredible. I thought, 'What if I took that
feel and that emotion and put it with [the new millennium]?'
"I like guitars," he added. "I know guitars ain't real big in hip-hop, but
if you use them the right way they can be. Other rappers have used them and
got away with it."
It was Em's right-hand man Proof who sparked the idea to sample Aerosmith's
"Dream On" for "Sing for the Moment."
"I had wanted to do it a long time ago, when I was like 16, 17," he said of
the sample. "I had wanted to use it but just kind of forgot about it. He
brought it to my attention again. He was like, 'I'm telling you, man, don't
sleep on it.' The chorus fit what I was going through at the time so ... we
just constructed the beat. I already had the rhyme wrote."
All of the songs seemed to just come together like that, he said. There was
no method to the madness.
"Honestly, I don't really have a formula that I go by," Em said. "I just get
in the studio, I start playing with the drum machine or whatever if I like a
pattern. I got a keyboard player that I get in there. A lot of times I'll
write my rhyme before I make the beat, and the pattern of my rhyme will kind
of sway the beat a little. I don't really have a set formula. I just get in
For a full-length feature interview with Eminem, check out "Eminem: The Gift And The Curse".
Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Sway Calloway