How bad was Eminem’s descent into prescription drug addiction? It not only nearly robbed him of his life , it scrambled his brain so badly that he literally had to learn how to rap again, he revealed to the New York Post.
On the eve of his historic two-night stand at Yankee Stadium with Jay-Z #8212; and his two VMA wins #8212; the paper spoke to Slim Shady, 37, about his tumble into drug addiction and the long, hard road to redemption on his hit album Recovery.
“I had to learn to write and rap again, and I had to do it sober and 100 percent clean,” Em said, explaining the more mature, focused nature of his rhymes on Recovery. “That didn’t feel good at first … I mean it in the literal sense. I actually had to learn how to say my lyrics again #8212; how to phrase them, make them flow, how to use force so they sounded like I meant them. Rapping wasn’t like riding a bike. It was [as much] physical as mental. I was relearning basic motor skills. I couldn’t control my hand shakes. I’d get in the [recording] booth and tried to rap, and none of it was clever, none was witty and I wasn’t saying it right.”
The rapper recalled taking his first Vicodin when he was 24 or 25, back before he could afford anything he wanted. “It was easy in the beginning,” he said. “I didn’t have the money to get really involved in drugs. I’d do them when somebody offered them to me. As my career took off and the crowds got larger and life got faster, I reached out for that sh– more and more. I used it as a crutch to calm my nerves.
Especially the sleeping pills.”
But as his addiction deepened, the drugs began affecting his art, stifling his creativity, shutting off his brain and making him so lazy he preferred watching TV to making new tracks. He said that while listening to albums such as 2004’s Encore, he can hear how high he was in the music. “I think the drug use was obvious,” he said.
While late partner Proof tried to get him off the pills, Em said even hearing deep concern from his childhood best friend wasn’t enough to get him to come clean. “He’d say what was on his mind,” Marshall said of Proof. “But as close as he was, it didn’t matter. I wasn’t ready to listen. There wasn’t a person who could tell me I had a problem.
What came next was a nearly four-year hiatus during which the rapper first went to rehab, but then relapsed and settled into a drug funk that he was only beginning to come out of when he released last year’s album Relapse. In retrospect, he realized that there were some problems with the record.
“I wasn’t disappointed when I put it out. When I felt that was later, when I was reassessing my work #8212; trying to figure out why my songs didn’t sound like they used to sound,” he said. “The further I got away from Relapse, I was able to hear the problems with all the accents I was using to slip in and out of characters, and how the serial killing didn’t work. The joke was over #8212; I ran it into the ground.”
He realized the problem was an obvious lack of “personal honesty” on the tracks, a situation he rectified on Recovery with such hit tracks as “Not Afraid” and the Rihanna collabo “Love The Way You Lie.” Once his head finally cleared, Em said, he was a new man, which might explain why he ditched plans to make Relapse 2 and start over with Recovery .
“When I got clean and sober, it was like I was a kid again,” he said. “Everything was new. Not to sound corny, I felt like I was born again. I had to learn my writing skills. I was relearning how to rap. I didn’t know if my MC skills were intact. But everything was fun and suddenly I started feeling happy. I hadn’t felt happy for a long time.”