Script Shepherd struck gold on his first try.
The first time the 25-year-old producer/performer got one of his tracks on an album was also the first time he got to sing a guest hook on an album. Amazingly, that album happens to be one of the biggest releases of the year: Eminem’s Recovery. Shepherd produced and sings the chorus on Slim Shady’s “Cinderella Man.”
Is the title of the song inspired by the 2005 Russell Crowe film? “Not really,” Shepherd smiled. “I liked the film. But at the time, I was going through a hard time. My brother had just passed away.
“It’s a stadium feel, an anthem,” he added about the song. “Like marching, marching towards something. The sound is big, the message is big on the record. It’s about just coming from nothing, not doubting yourself. It sounds like you’re marching towards a goal. The guitars are rifting, and it has little bells keeping it melodic. It’s a strong record that’s motivating. And Em did something motivating with it. I just wanted to have people feel like they’re moving with the record, have a ’Rocky’ feel. It sounded more authentic to have people feel like they were stomping in the record.”
Script said the chorus is a little abstract, but it’s meant to inspire. “The hook says, ’If I had a time machine, I’d be a Cinderella man/ Music is my time machine/ Call me Cinderella man,’ ” Shepherd said. “Basically, it’s like, music can allow you to do all types of things. You can change the world with music. You can go back and enlighten and move people forward just with sounds and connection. Music is a time machine.”
Em chose the song through Shady A&R rep Riggs Morales, the same guy who played Em 50 Cent’s early mixtapes before the Queens kingpin was signed to Shady/Aftermath.
Script and his team sent the track with the hook to Em’s camp, but Shepherd didn’t hear the finished version until a few weeks ago, when Recovery leaked.
“I was in the bathroom,” he said. “My wife called me, and I thought it was a bug [in the house]. She was like, ’You gotta come now.’ It was amazing. I was in the house with my family. My kids were going to sleep. I woke them up. … It was such a tight-knit project. I didn’t have a copy of it. I heard it on the Internet like everybody else, and I was the most excited person in the world, besides my wife.”
Script’s love of music has been a lifelong affair. In his native Toronto, his dad would play soul music by Otis Redding. Script moved to Brooklyn as a toddler, where he would get his hip-hop influence. Late, great record executive Shakir Stewart signed Script to Arista Records when he was 18 as part of the R&B group Brooklyn. The five-man team would later change their name to Roswell, but their success was not in the cards. Arista folded, and so did the group.
Script has stayed in the industry, writing songs for artists such as Sammy and submitting tracks to superstars like Usher. He went in the lab with Usher, just a week after his older brother was killed in the streets.
“Foolishness,” he said of how his brother died. “He got stabbed, one time, in front of my mother. That was a hard, hard time. But I know he’s happy with what I’ve done. Just taking that experience and not retaliating and killing somebody. … A week later, I was in the studio with Usher. I was in the studio with Usher watching him, then I’d go in the bathroom and cry like a baby. But it’s not what you go through; it’s how you go through it.”
Script is currently seeking a record deal for his solo career.
“Me, as a solo artist, Script Shepherd is just a lover not a fighter,” he said. “I will fight for love, but I’m not a fighter. I will go to all lengths to make sure people in the world love each other. Whether I have string guitar or raps, it’s all gonna be moving in the same direction. Thanks to artists like Drake, the world is more open to somebody singing and rapping now. It’s time to bring a message with it. Sometimes the music gets lost in the message. I found a good balance with it. Motivate the people.”
It’s Eminem Week at MTV News, so stick with us as we celebrate the release of Recovery and take you inside the making of Em’s latest album.