NEW YORK — Looks like the Jimmy B-Rabbit inside of [artist id="502642"]Eminem[/artist] is still alive.
The Detroit rapper seemed to channel the scrappy character he played in his breakout movie role early Tuesday morning (June 22) as he took to the stage for a surprise performance during the Red Bull EmSee: The Road to 8 Mile freestyle rap battle. Just hours earlier, he had been on the rooftop of the Ed Sullivan Theater for a taping of Jay-Z's appearance on the "Late Show With David Letterman."
Decked out in jeans, a white T-shirt, black, zip-up hoodie and black military cap, Em hit the stage shortly after midnight with a burst of furious rhymes. The Shady One delivered a rapid succession of rhymes to Drake's "Over" before the DJ, the Alchemist, flipped the record to Lloyd Banks' "Beamer, Benz or Bentley."
The intimate audience at Manhattan's Bowery Ballroom — a space with a capacity of under 600 — were cheering wildly for Em and D-12's Mr. Porter.
Eminem quickly segued into "On Fire" and "Won't Back Down," from his new album, Recovery, which dropped on Monday. On the latter (without collaborator Pink), he was particularly energetic, delivering the rousing lyrics with added urgency.
"Listen, garden tool/ Don't make me introduce you to my power tool/ You know the f---ing drill," Em rapped. "How you douche bags feel?/ Knowing you're disposable, Summer's Eve, Massengill."
After the third song, Eminem ended his brief set and directly addressed the crowd, hinting that their support was what carried him through recovery from his well-documented drug dependency.
"New York, on some real sh--, we didn't get time to rehearse this, but we wanted to come out for y'all," he said. "If it wasn't for y'all, I wouldn't even be here. Thank you to each and every one of y'all. We love you. Peace."
Chants of "encore" soon filled the venue, but the rapper was gone. "Thanks to everyone for coming out to the Redbull EmSee battle," he tweeted later. "I appreciate all the love New York. Yes, I'm really typing this."
Prior to Eminem's set, underground supergroup Slaughterhouse performed. Royce Da 5'9", Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I all drew cheers with their various slick rhymes.
Royce, a fellow Detroit MC and longtime Em affiliate, spoke to the crowd about the collective's ongoing negotiations with Shady Records, where the four hope to sign after releasing last summer's group debut via E1 Entertainment.
"It's Shady for life," he told the crowd. The event was hosted by Shade 45 morning-show host Angela Yee and D.R.E.S. Tha Beatnik. The night featured a three-round battle, judged by producers Just Blaze and the Alchemist, along with legendary freestyle rapper Craig G.
Rapper DNA scored the biggest reaction from the crowd with his boastful rhymes and eventually earned the win. The winners of Red Bull EmSee contests across the country will battle at the finals in Detroit, where Em himself made his name as a lyrical mudslinger.
Have you been at one of Em's recent appearances? Where would you like to see Eminem pop up next? Let us know in the comments.