As his critically praised new album looks set to have the biggest first-week sales of 2010, Eminem talked with Vibe.com about Recovery, (both the album and his own recovery from drug addiction), his placement in MTV News' "Hottest MCs in the Game" rollout last year and his relationship with hip-hop.
Asked about a line in the song "25 to Life" where he talks about taking control of his relationship with hip-hop, Em said, "What the whole song is saying is that I have a strange relationship with hip-hop because I love it so much. I go through this thing in my head a lot, which I'm sure every rapper does, where you give your life to this thing. You literally give everything that you got. I come to work some days wearing the same thing two days in a row — baggy sweats — just dedicating my life to this. And there are times that I feel like I get the respect that I deserve and there are times where I feel like I don't."
He was then asked about being left out of the top 10 of last year's "Hottest MCs in the Game."
"That 'Hottest MC' list that I was left off, it was one of those things that I was glad that I am at where I'm at. I'm glad I'm in this place now, because a few years ago I would've let it bother me more than it did. I took it not as a slap in the face but more so like, 'Maybe I'm not on that list for a reason. Maybe I'm not doing the things that I need to be doing. Maybe I need to look at myself and step it up.' I don't know what I would have thought being in the mind state that I was in. I just felt like maybe I need to do better."
The conversation then turned to his recovery from drug addiction and how the experience has changed him. "I handle things a lot differently now," he said. "I'm proud to be able to say that I'm an addict without any shame in it. I'm proud that I'm able to admit that I have a problem with a certain thing and I have to leave it alone and accept it. I'm proud that I'm strong enough to be able to walk away form those things."
Em also spoke about his decision not to release a second volume of Relapse, as he'd planned, and instead focus on Recovery.
"On a record like the new record, when I mention the third verse of 'Talking to Myself,' I try to sum up the last two records in a nutshell," he said. "Mr. Porter, who produced 'On Fire,' had this analogy of Encore and Relapse that stuck with me: 'Encore I was on drugs, Relapse I was flushing them out.' His view on Relapse was that I was flushing the drugs out my system and looking back at it, I probably was. My mind was coming back, my writing skills were coming back, so I was able to write again because I had writer's block from the pills. I was backed up. I was writing so much and so quickly that I didn't have a chance to stop and say, Are these good songs? Are they great songs? I was just going. I was like, 'I got so much material for three albums, but let's narrow it down to two. Let's put out Relapse 2 months later. That was the original plan.
"There are so many drug references on the last album; that's just where my head was at," he continued. "I came to life again and everything was like new. When they say 'in recovery' or 'in rehab', it's like being born again when you get clean and sober. You start appreciating sh-- that you never thought you would appreciate, like, 'Wow, look at those trees. Look at nature.' Before, it didn't matter. I just started appreciating things more. I got happy when I got sober, broke free from the chains — not to sound corny. I broke free from the chains of addiction and it was just like 'Ahh, I'm happy again. I'm not a prisoner.' I was just happy to be back."