Eminem Blows Up from Rolling Stone Magazine, April
three short months, twenty-four year old Marshall Bruce
Mathers III has gone from white trash to white hot.
The Michigan rapper who calls himself Eminem -
and whose debut The Slim Shady LP, sold 480,000
copies in its first two weeks - was a $5.50-an-hour cook
in a Detroit grill before his obscenity-strewn, gleefully
violent, spastic, hilarious and demented rhymes landed
him in the studio with rap honcho Dr. Dre.
The blue-eyed MC is dealing with the instant fame
and simultaneous criticism well enough -- much better,
actually, than he is dealing with the fifth of Bicardi
he downed an hour ago. On a chilly Friday night in New
York, he emerges bleary-eyed from the bathroom in his
manager's office. "I just threw up everything I had,"
he says in his slow-roll drawl, which is a bit slower
at the moment. "All I ate today was that slice of pizza.
Feel good now, though."
His manager exhales slowly with relief. Eminem
has three club gigs tonight, and the first one starts
in less than an hour. The crew (nine, including DJ Stretch
Armstrong and Dennis the security guard) ambles toward
the elevator. Downstairs awaits Eminem's partner in rap,
Royce the 5'9, who looks to be about that and has seven
people of his own in tow. Em hops into a gigantic ant
white limo as fellow honky Armstrong cops a rhyme from
Eric Clapton's Cream. "In the white room, with white people
and white rappers," he bellows. A minute later there's
a knock on the window and one of Royce's posse gives Em
the first of the three hits of ecstasy he will consume
over the course of the night. Down it goes in a swallow
of ginger ale as the car zooms off towards Staten Island.
Out on New Dorp Lane, there is a crowd of kids,
a mere fraction of the number already inside the Lane
Theater. The all-ages show is packed, and Eminem is the
evening's main course. The mob is being controlled by
the club's security, but when the rapper moves inside,
the burly dudes are no match for the crush of shouting
teens. "You look good!" one girl shouts. "Oh, my God,
he looks even better in person," shrieks another. Everywhere,
kids have tiny glow sticks in their mouths, which, here
in the dark, look like neon braces. At the back of the
club, up a ladder, is the minute-dressing room, where
the very proud owner of the club is waiting. "Hey, nice
to meet ya," he says. "My daughter told me to get Eminem,
so I got Eminem. It's her fourteenth birthday. Hey, say
hi to her and her friends."
Eminem soon grabs four bottles of water and heads
to the stage. He owns this audience. These predominantly
white kids know every word, every nuance, and can't get
enough. If Slim Shady's rhymes about sex with underage
girls ("Yo look at her bush, does it got hair?/Fuck this
bitch right on the spot bare/Till she passes out and she
forgot how she got there") bother them any, they don't
show it. In fact, the filthier the material, the louder
On The Slim Shady LP, Eminem says "God sent
me to piss the world off." Interscope Records is Em's
label - a perfect fit for a company that's home to controversial
artists like the late Tupac Shakur and Marilyn Manson.
Eminem has been condemned as a misogynist, a nihilist
and an advocate of domestic violence, principally in an
editorial by Billboard editor in chief Timothy White,
who attacked The Slim Shady LP as "making money
by exploiting the world's misery." "My album isn't for
younger kids to hear," Eminem says. "It has an advisory
sticker, and you must be eighteen to get it. That doesn't
mean younger kids won't get it, but I'm not responsible
for every kid out there. I'm not a role model, and I don't
claim to be." On the album, his alias, Slim Shady, hangs
himself from a tree by his penis, dumps the girlfriend
he's murdered in a lake with the help of their baby daughter,
takes every drug at once, rips "Pamela Lee's tits off"
and heads out into the night yelling, "Too all the people
I've offended, yeah fuck you too!"
This hard-core attitude has won him acceptance
not just from teenagers taken with his video but also
from the hip hop community. Later on, at Manhattan's Sound
Factory, Em will win over a mostly black audience. He
will be greeted with indifferent stares that will melt
into smiles, then rump-shaking abandon by the end of his
four-song set. The rapper will top of the evening - well,
the morning by that point - entertaining doelike women
and spiky-haired guys at the trendy mecca called Life,
where a table of model types will be evicted so that Em
and his friends may kick back.
Right about now, though, a roomful of Staten Islanders
is going berserk. In the silence between songs, a young
girl in the front row who's wearing a white baby T screams,
"I love you!" Eminem walks over. "I love you, too," he
says and bends down to give her a hug. Big mistake. The
girl lays a kiss on his lips and sets off the girl next
to her, who tears Eminem's head away and kisses him full
on the mouth. "Oh shit," he laughs. "I'm going to jail
tonight!" He launches into "Scary Movies," the B side
to the independently released "Bad Meets Evil" single,
and the audience raps right along. When he sits at the
front of the stage, his pants are pulled at and his crotch
is grabbed. "I touched his dick!" on girl boasts to her
Eminem is already a bona fide star, the type not-likely
to play a club this small again. The only reason he is
here at all is that this date was booked before his debut
album entered the charts at Number Two. The demand for
the record at stores around the country was so great the
Interscope shipped more that 1 million copies - extraordinarily
rare for a first record. Eminem has similarily conquered
MTV: Since the January release of the wise-ass video for
"My Name Is" he has been on the network more than Carson
Daly. And now three months later, despite the fact that
he's never headlined for any length of time, the rapper
has been offered slots on every summer tour except CSNY's.
Eminem empties a water bottle on the heads of the
audience, drops his pants, waves his middle finger around,
and the show is over. He is whisked into a waiting car
through a back alley. The police have been called to keep
things orderly as the limo moves of into the night. At
the curb, a girl who looks no more that fourteen shouts,
"I want to fuck you," tugging suggestively at the top
of her shirt and revealing her pierced tongue. "I want
to fuck you, too," Eminem says aloud to himself. "But
Eminem is a white boy in a black medium. He has
been booed on the mic and told repeatedly by black hip-hoppers
that he should stop rapping and go into rock & roll.
"It's some very awkward shit," says Em's mentor, Dr. Dre,
about the race card. "It's like seeing a black guy doing
country & western, know what I'm saying?" Even Dre's
judgement was suspect when he signed Em to his Interscope
imprint, Aftermath. "I got a couple of questions from
people around me," he says. "You know, 'He's got blue
eyes, he's a white kid.' But I don't give a fuck if you're
purple: If you can kick it, I'm working with you." Indeed,
talent will overcome, and Em is having the last laugh.
"A lot of the people who disrespected me are coming out
of the woodwork now for collaborations," he says. "But
I like doing my own shit. If there were too many other
voices, the stories wouldn't go right." True enough -
slipping a verse into a song about a New Wave blonde babe
nurse's aide who overdoses on mushrooms and relieves her
father's sexual abuse, all over a party-hearty tempo,
isn't exactly the same as freestyling on the "Money, Cash,
For anyone expecting more of the naughty pop-culture-obsessed
blonde kid in the clean version of "My Name Is", proffered
on MTV, The Slim Shady LP is some bad-trip nether
world. But that world is exactly why the hip-hop underground
loves Em. His off-the-beat flow, way off-the-beat lyrics
and loony-tunes presentation place him in a class by himself.
Em isn't trying to be Jay-Z, DMX, or Tupac; he's trying
to be the Roadrunner, turning his enemies' anvils back
on themselves with split-second trickery. He's also probably
the only MC in 1999 who boasts low self-esteem. His rhymes
are jaw-droppingly perverse, bespeaking a minimum-wage
life devoid of hope, flushed with rage and weaned on sci-fi
And in the midst of the splatter is Marshall Mathers.
Songs like "As The World Turns", in which Shady "fucks
a divorced slut" to death with his "go-go-gadget dick,"
are adolescent fantasies that indicate how Em spells revenge.
But songs like "If I Had" and "Rock Bottom" are where
the cartoons fade away, the bravado drops and the frustrated
kid of this not-too-distant past appears, fed up with
life, dead-end jobs adn the poverty that has made him
"mad enough to scream but sad enough to tear."
"I couldn't even got into a motherfucking club
just being Eminem, before the video," Mathers says, walking
through Newark Airport the day after his New York club
shows. "Last night they had people clearing tables for
me. It's fucking bananas. Scary shit too, 'cause you can
fall just as quick as you went to the top." He is a smallish
guy who walks with a subdued swagger. Em is like a class
clown with a lot on his mind: When he's on, nothing escapes
the cross hairs of his snottiness, but when he's off,
no one is included in his thoughts. He keeps the world
at bay with humor and an ever-growing list of character
voices, including a roguish Scotsman, a Middle Eastern
cab driver, and a sleazy lech. He slips into these voices
constantly, even in the midst of heart-wrenching stories
about his childhood. Today he is chipper and apparently
no worse for wear after just two hours of sleep and no
breakfast. He is bound for his home-town of Detroit for
three days off before heading to Mexico to perform on
MTV's Spring Break '99, then on to Chicago for more album
The rapper is no stranger to moving around. He
and his mother shuttled between Missouri and Michigan,
rarely staying in one house for more than a year or two,
and finally settled down when Marshall was eleven. It
was the start of a life full of enough screaming fights
and sordid dramas that, at the tender age of 24, Eminem
is ready for his own Behind The Music. But what
happened depends on whom you ask. To hear him tell it,
his life up until now has been non-stop hard knocks, beatings
from bullies, and brawls with his pill-popping, lawsuit-happy
mom. His mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs, on the other hand,
denies both of these characterizations, claiming that
her unending love and financial support got Eminem through
the dog days. It's a story that would make Jerry Spring
salivate, but let's just stick to the facts: (1) Eminem
has never met his father; (2) he spent his formative years
living in a largely black lower-middle-class Detroit neighborhood;
(3) he dropped out of high school in the ninth grade;
(4) he and his baby's mother have been breaking up and
making up for the past eight years, and; (5) he loves
their three-year-old daughter Hailie Jade, more than anybody
else in the world.
Eminem's parents were married, his mother says,
when she was fifteen and his father was twenty-two. Marshall
III was born two years later. His parents were in a band
called Daddy Warbucks, playing Ramada Inns along the Dakota-Montana
border. But their relationship when sour. The couple split
up, and Debbie and her son lived with family members for
a few years before settling on the east side of Detroit.
Marshall's father moved to California. As a teen, the
future Eminem sent his dad a few letters, all of which,
his mother claims, came back "return to sender". "I heard
he's trying to get in touch with me now," the rapper says.
"Fuck that motherfucker, man. Fuck him."
The single mother and her sons (Em's younger half-brother,
Nathan, was born in 1986) were one of three white households
on their block. "I'm colorblind - it wasn't an issue,"
Em's mom says. "But the younger people in the area gave
us trouble. Marshall got jumped a lot." When he was sixteen,
his ass was kicked fiercely. "I was walking home from
my boy's house, through the Bel-Air Shopping Center,"
he recalls. "All these black dudes rode by in a car, flippin'
me off. I flipped them off back, they drove away, and
I didn't think nothin' of it." Evidently they parked the
car. "One dude came up, hit me in the face and knocked
me down. Then he pulled out a gun. I ran right out my
shoes, dog. I thought that's what they wanted." But they
didn't - when Mathers returned the next day, his shoes
were still stuck in the mud. "That's how I knew it was
racial." Em was saved by a white guy who pulled over,
took out a gun and drove him home. "He came in wearing
just his socks and underwear," his mother says woefully.
"They had taken his jogging suit off him, taken his boombox.
They would have taken him out, too."
Eminem heard his first rap song when he was nine
years old. It was "Reckless" a track featuring Ice-T on
the Breakin' soundtrack, which his Uncle Ronnie had given
him. Ten years later, when Ronnie committed suicide, Eminem
was devasted. "I didn't talk for days," he says. "I couldn't
even go to the funeral."
He dropped out of high school after failing the
ninth grade for the third time. "As soon as I turned fifteen,"
he says, "my mother was like, 'Get a fucking job and help
me with these bills or your ass is out.' Then she would
fucking kick me out anyway, half the time right after
she took most of my paycheck." His mom says none of this
is true: "A friend told me, 'Debbie, he's saying this
stuff for publicity.' He was always well provided for."
Either way, his salvation was rap and the rhymes he had
begun to write. "As soon as my mom would leave to go play
bingo, I would blast the stereo," he says. Soon enough
he was ready to test his skills by sneaking into neighboring
Osborne High School with his friend and fellow MC Proof,
for lunchroom rap throw-downs. "It was like White Men
Can't Jump," says Proof, now an account executive
for hip hop clothier Maurice Malone. "Everybody thought
he'd be easy to beat, and they got smoked every time."
On Saturdays the two friends went to open-mic contests
at the Hip-Hop Shop, on West 7 Mile, ground zero for the
Detroit scene. "As soon as I'd grab the mic, I'd get booed,"
Eminem recalls. "Once motherfuckers heard me rhyme, though,
they'd shut up." With four other rappers, Em and Proof
formed a crew called the Dirty Dozen before Em released
his own album, Infinite, on a local label in 1996
- an effort devoid of Shady's wacked out humor and pent-up
rage. "It was right before my daughter was born, so having
a future for her was all I talked about," he says. "It
was way hip-hopped out, like Nas or AZ - that rhyme style
was real in at the time. I've always been a smartass comedian,
and that's why it wasn't a good album."
Detroit DJs and radio folks seemed to agree, leaving
Infinite well enough alone. "After that record,
every rhyme I wrote got angrier and agrier," Eminem says.
"A lot of it was because of the feedback I got. Motherfuckers
was like, "You're a white boy, what the fuck are you rapping
for? Why don't you go into rock and roll? All that type
of shit started pissing me off." It didn't help that days
before his daughter's first birthday, Eminem got fired
from his cooking job at Gilbert's Lodge. "That was the
worst time ever, dog," he says. "It was like five days
before Christmas, which is Hailie's birthday. I had, like,
forty dollars to get her something. I wrote "Rock Bottom"
write after that."
This downward spiral ended one day on the john
when Em met Slim Shady. "Boom, the name hit me, and right
away I thought of all these words to rhyme with it," he
says. "So I wiped my ass, got up off the pot and, ah,
went and called everybody I knew."
Shady became Em's vengeful gremlin, his knight
in smarmy armor, and Inspector Gadget Incredible Hulk
with a taste for a bit of the ultra-violence. It was high
time for Em to write some of the wrongs in his life, and
Slim Shady was just the cat to right them. At the top
of the shit list was his grade-school nemesis, D'Angelo
Bailey. Yes, the bully who gets it with a broomstick in
"Brain Damage" was entirely real. "Motherfucker used to
beat the shit out of me," Eminem says. "I was in fourth
grade and he was in sixth. Everything in the song is true:
One day he came in the bathroom, I was pissing, and he
beat the shit out of me. Pissed all over myself. But that's
not how I got really fucked up." During recess one winter,
Em taunted a smallish friend of Bailey's. "D'Angelo Bailey
- no one called him D'Angelo - came running from across
the yard and hit me so hard into this snowbank that I
blacked out." Em was sent hom, his ear started bleeding,
and he was taken to the hospital. "He had cerebral hemorrhage
and was in and out of consciousness for five days," his
mother reports. "The doctors had given up on him, but
I wouldn't give up on my son."
"I remember waking up and saying, 'I can spell
elephant,'" Em recalls with a laugh. "D'Angelo
Bailey - I'll never forget that kid."
Old D'Angelo won't forget you, either. "He was
the one we used to pick on," says Bailey, now married
with kids and living in Detroit. "There was a bunch of
us that used to mess with him. You know, bully-type things.
We was having fun. Sometimes he'd fight back - depended
on what mood he'd be in." As for Eminem's recollection
of the event that put him in the hospital, Bailey boasts,
"Yeah, we flipped him right on his head at recess. When
we didn't see him moving, we took off running. We lied
and said he slipped on the ice. He was a wild kid, but
back then we thought it was stupid. Hey, you have his
In the spring of 1997, Eminem recorded his eight
song Slim Shady EP - the demo that earned him his
deal with Interscope. At the time, he was scrounging more
than ever. He and his girlfriend, Kim, had been living
with their baby in crack-infested neighborhoods. A stray
bullet flying through the kitchen window and lodging in
the wall while Kim was doing dishes wasn't the worst of
it - they had been adopted by a crackhead. "The neighborhoods
we lived in fucking sucked," Kim says. "I went through
four TVs and five VCRs in two years." After cleaning out
the first of those TVs and VCRs, plus a clock radio, the
guy came back one night to make a sandwich. "He left the
peanut butter, jelly - all the shit - out and didn't steal
nothing," Em says. "Ain't this about a motherfucking bitch.
But then he came back again and took everything but the
couches and beds. The pillows, clothes, silverware - everything.
We were fuckin' fucked."
The young parents moved in with Em's mother for
a while, which wasn't much better. "My mother did a lot
of dope and shit - a lot of pills - so she had mood swings,"
Em says. "She'd go to bed cool, then wake up like, 'Motherfuckers,
get out!'" Em's mom denies all of the above. "I've never
done drugs," she says. "Marshall was raised in a drug
and alcohol-free enviroment." He moved in with friends,
and Kim and the baby lived with her mother. "I didn't
have a job that whole summer," Em recalls. "Then we got
evicted, because my friends and me were paying rent to
the guy on the lease, and he screwed us over." The night
before he headed to the Rap Olympics, an annual nationwide
MC battle in L.A., he came home to a locked door and an
eviction notice. "I had to break in," he says. "I didn't
have anywhere else to go. There was no heat, no water,
no electricity. I slept on the floor, woke up, went to
L.A. I was so pissed."
"Oh, my God," recalls Paul "Bunyan" Rosenberg,
the beefy lawyer who manages Eminem. "There was this black
guy sitting next to me in the crowd at the Olympics. After
the first round, he yells, 'Just give it to the white
boy. It's over. Give it to the white boy.'"
They didn't, and Em was crushed. Not only couldhe
have used the first-place prize, 500 bucks and a Rolex,
but he wasn't used to taking second. "He really looked
like he was going to cry," Rosenberg says, nodding thoughtfully.
Well, Eminem lost the battle, but he won the war. A Shady
EP given to a few Interscope staffers soon made it into
the hands of co-head Jimmy Iovine. While Em was in L.A.,
Iovine and Dr. Dre took a listen. "In my entire career
in the music industry," Dre says, "I have never found
anything from a demo tape of a CD. When Jimmy played this,
I said, 'Find him. Now.'"
Their first day in the studio, the pair knocked
off "My Name Is" in about an hour, and as much as that
song proved that Em is a brother from another planet,
they were just warming up. "I wrote two songs for the
next album on ecstasy," Eminem says. "Shit about bouncing
off walls, going straight through 'em, falling down twenty
stories. Crazy. That's what we do when I'm in the studio
with Dre." Dr. Dre on E? "Ha, ha," Dre laughs. "He didn't
say that! It's true, though. We get in there, get bugged
out, stay in the studio for fuckin' two days. Then you're
dead for three days. Then you wake up, pop the tape in,
like, 'Let me see what I've done.'"
"Hey, turn here," Eminem says to the driver of
the big white van currently crunching through the snow-covered
streets of east Detroit. "Stop. That was our house. My
room was upstairs, in the back." The small two-story homes
on the gridlike streets are identical - square patch of
grass in the front, a short driveway on the side - differentiable
only by their brick face or shingles. The van turns off
8 Mile, passing Em's high school, then the field next
to the Bel-Air Shopping Center, where Em lost his boombox
and nearly his life. Em is looking out of the window like
a kid at Disneyland, pointing, recalling happy and heartbreaking
memories with equal excitement. "I like living in Detroit,
making it my home," he says as the van heads toward the
highway. "I like working out in L.A., but I wouldn't want
to live there. My little girl is here."
The van pulls up to Gilbert's Lodge, the every-food
family restaurant in suburban St. Clair Shores where Em
worked on and off for three years. Inside there are antler
chandeliers, a couple of appetite-suppressing mounted
moose heads and a "trophy room," containing the jerseys
of various local teams. The restaurant's staff scurries
about, unaware of Em, who has virtually walked into the
kitchen without being greeted. "Yo, Pete, whassup?" Em
calls to a mustached man checking on orders. "Hi, Marshall,"
answers his former manager, Pete Karagiaouris. "Coming
in to buy the place?" A few heads turn, and apron-clad
folks say quick hellos.
"Hi, Marshall," says a forties-ish waitress with
a sticky-sweet voice and a Midwestern accent. "You know,
I watch MTV and I never see you."
"Oh, yeah?" he replies coolly.
Em takes a table towards the back. After a very
silent twenty minutes, he stops a passing waitress: "Can
we get some beers here?"
"Yeah, but I need to see your ID," she says.
"I don't have my wallet with me, but I used to
work here - ask Pete. I'm over twenty-one."
Less than twenty-four hours ago, in Staten Island,
security guards had kept a frothing crowd from tearing
Em to shreds while he earned five grand for rapping four
songs. In his own hometown, in the place he spent forty
to sixty hours a week for three years, he's a stranger,
and one without silverware, water or a menu. Either Gilbert's
issued a memo about keeping Em real or the staff is having
trouble coming to terms with Marshall's success. "Why
did that bitch have to say that?" he says about the MTV
jab. "Fucking bitch. I never liked her." It's a theme
he returns to for the rest of the night. Em's shot of
Bacardi arrives; he slams it, gets another and goes off
to talk to the Gilbert's former co-workers. "Man, everything
can be going so right," Rosenberg says, sipping his beer.
"But a comment like that will stick with him for days.
This is his reality - he came from this, and after everything
is over, this is the reality he has to go back to."
The manager heads over, offering to make Eminem
a special garlic-chicken pizza. "He was a good worker,"
Karagiaouris recalls. "But he'd be in the back rapping
all the orders, and sometimes I had to tell him to tone
it down." Em demonstrates, freestyling the ingredients
of most of the appetizers in his herky-jerky whine. "Music
was always the most important thing to him," Karagiaouris
says. "But I never knew if he was any good at it - I listen
to Greek music."
"You know what, Paulie?" Em says, smiling mischeviously.
"I want to do a clothing line. Fat Fuck Clothing, for
the Big Pun in you. What do you think?"
It's getting late, and Em's daughter is waiting
for him. He has four days here at home to spend with her
and her mother.
The van winds back to Detroit, stopping at a modest
home. Kim, a pretty blonde, hops in holding Hailie, a
groggy but smiley blue-eyed beauty who immediately dives
onto Em's lap and wraps her arms around his neck. The
van whisks off, Hailie falls back to sleep, and Em tells
Kim about the New York shows. Forty minutes later, the
van turns into the trailer park - more of a village, really
- that Em calls home. "After I got my record deal, my
mother moved back to Kansas City," he says. "I took over
the payments on her trailer, but I'm never here." Indeed,
the eviction notice on the door is proof enough. "Don't
worry, we took care of that one," Rosenberg says as Em
rips it off and goes inside.
The double-wide mobile home houses Em's possessions,
which, after all the robberies and the moving around,
have been acquired in the last six months. An autographed
glossy of Dre that reads, "Thanks for the support, asshole"
(mirroring Shady's autograph in "My Name Is") is on the
wall, as is the album art from the Shady EP. Above
the TV are two shots of Em and Dre from the video shoot,
along with pictures of Hailie. A small rack holds CDs
by 2Pac, Mase, Babyface, Luther Vandross, Esthero and
Snoop Dogg. A baby couch for Hailie sits in front of the
TV. On a wall near the kitchen is a flyer titled "Commitments
for Parents," which lists directives like "I will give
my child space to grow, dream, succeed and sometimes fail."
Hailie settles down on the floor with a stuffed
polar bear as Kim prepares her for bed. The couple are
happy to see each other tonight, but songs like "'97 Bonnie
and Clyde" make it clear that times are not always this
tranquil. Their relationship has been volatile - all the
more so since their daughter's birth. At one point two
years ago, when they were on the outs and dating other
people, Kim, according to Eminem, made it difficult for
him to see his daughter and even threatenend to file a
restraining order. Em wrote "Just the Two of Us" on the
Shady EP, to tell the tale of a father killing
his baby's mother and cleaning up the mess with the help
of his daughter: "Here, you wanna help Dada tie a rope
around this rock?/Then we'll tie it to her footsie, then
we'll roll her off the dock/Here we go, count of three.
One, two, three, wee!/There goes Mama, splashing in the
water/No more fighting with Dad, no more restraining order."
The original had a slightly different beat and
a less monied production that "'97 Bonnie and Clyde,"
the version on the Interscope album, but on the Shady
LP, Hailie chillingly plays herself (she is also on the
album cover and liner notes). "I lied to Kim and told
her I was taking her to Chuck E. Cheese that day," Em
recalls. "But I took her to the studio. When she found
out I used our daughter to write a song about killer her,
she fucking blew. We had just got back together for a
couple of weeks. Then I played her the song, and she bugged
the fuck out."
Kim declines to comment on that song or any of
the others about her, including a track slated for Em's
next album called "Kim." The song is the prelude to "'97
Bonnie and Clyde," with Em acting out the screaming fight
that ends in murder. Em has played it for her already
and claims that now she is truly convinced that he is
insane. "If I was her, I would have ran when I heard that
shit," Dre says. "It's over the top - the whole song is
him screaming. It's good, though. Kim gives him a concept."
Em's friend Proof has been around the couple from
the beginning. "This is what I love about Em," he says.
"One time we came home and Kim had thrown all his clothes
on the lawn - which was, like, two pairs of pants and
some gym shoes. So we stayed at my grandmother's, and
Em's like 'I'm leaving her; I'm never going back.' Next
day, he's back with her. The love they got is so genuine,
it's ridiculous. He gonna end up marrying her. But there's
always gonna be conflict there."
Em says Hailie has heard his record and loves it,
but he knows she's too young still to get much more than
the beats. "When she gets old enough, I'm going to explain
it to her," Em says. "I'll let her know that Mommy and
Daddy weren't getting along at the time. None of it was
to be taken literally." He shakes his head ruefully. "Although
at the time, I wanted to fucking do it." Em is the first
to admit that he's got a bad temper, which he has harnessed
into a career. "My thoughts are so fucking evil when I'm
writing shit," he says. "If I'm mad at my girl, I'm gonna
sit down and write the most misogynistic fucking rhyme
in the world. It's not how I feel in general, it's how
I feel at that moment. Like say today, earlier, I might
think something like, 'Coming through the airport sluggish,
walking on crutches, hit a pregnant bitch in the stomach
Slim Shady is Marshall Mathers' way of taking revenge
on the world, and he's also a defense mechanism. On the
one hand, a lot of Slim Shady's cartoonish fantasies are
offensive; on the other, they're better than Mathers re-creating
the kind of abuse the world heaped upon him growing up.
"I dealt with a lot of shit coming up, a lot of shit,"
he says. "When it's like that, you learn to live day by
day. When all this happened, I took a deep breath, just
like, "I did it.'" The magnitude of what he's done in
such a short time doesn't seem to have sunk in. Em hasn't
sipped the bubbly or smelled the roses - and if he allots
time for that in the next few months, it will have to
be at the drive-through. As for the future, he won't even
wager a guess.
"If he remains the same person that walked into
the studio with me that first day, he will be fucking
larger than Michael Jackson," says a confident Dre. "There
are a lot of ifs and buts, but my man, he's dope and very
humble." As Em closes the door, with Hailie's blanket
in his hands, he looks humble, a little tired and pretty
happy. For now.