After the last two mediocre albums, Recovery was vital for your legacy. How important is it to you to be mentioned as one of the greats, if not the greatest?
How important is it? I think, hmmm. I mean, anytime you hear things like that (5), it’s certainly an honor and feels good but I don’t rap to be the absolute best rapper in the world because I think there is no such thing. I rap to be the best that I can be. I feel like I compete with myself a lot and I’m always trying to top what I did. I think Wayne once said, “Of course you are rapping to be the best rapper. Because otherwise, why are you doing it?” So everyone raps to say they are the best or to be the best or whatever. I don’t even know if I’m making any sense. It’s what hip-hop is based on: “I’m better than you. I do this better than you.” At the end of the day, I don’t believe that there is one rapper that can be the best because that means you have to be the best at everything. There are certain things that I may do better than Wayne. There are certain things that Wayne may do better than me. There are certain things that Jay may do better than both of us. Everybody has certain things that they are good at. Being the best? There is no such thing.
Let’s discuss the opening lines on “Talkin’ 2 Myself.”(6) Did you just decide one day that you would attack Kanye and Lil Wayne?
Well, it wasn’t one day. And it wasn’t just them. The reason why I singled them out on the record was because to me, they were the ones killing it the most. There was a point in time where I was walking around the studio feeling like I should go at everybody. I don’t give a fuck if it’s Paul Wall or Bubba Sparxxx. If you’re out there and doing well, I’m not and I know that I’m not. I didn’t like them because I didn’t like myself. Now, I like those guys because I like myself.
You also said that if you released a diss record it would have sucked. (7) C’mon, really?
It would have been terrible. It would have been terrible. I’m certainly glad I came to my senses. [At the time], I couldn’t even write a fucking punch line. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t write period.
At the time—2006, 2007—50 Cent was baiting Kanye and Lil Wayne. Did you guys talk about that?
Me and 50 never discussed the Wayne thing. As far as the Kanye thing, we never really got into detail on that either. I never took it as him having a real beef with Kanye. It was a friendly competition and hype to [promote] both albums.
You had so many battles. Do you regret anything you’ve ever said about anyone?
I don’t really regret anything because it was certainly the way I was feeling at the time. I’m sure that a lot of the shit went pretty far out there but it’s my art, man.
I think the coldest thing you ever rhymed was directed at Everlast. (8)
Yeah, me and Everlast had a pretty good beef going back then. We’ve squashed it now but yeah we were going after each other for a while. I was a hell of a lot angrier person back them. [Laughs.] My mentality was just [sic] everybody. It may even be rooted in the way I was treated growing up. It might be psychological.
What was the best thing someone said about you? Was there ever a hot Eminem diss?
Um, no. [Laughs.] Nah, I’m kidding. Shit, there was a couple of lines Everlast said like, “You ain’t running up on me with no empty gun.” I know there is a lot of shit that I would have said about me.
Just like that scene in 8 Mile?
Yeah. Which is why I chose a lot of times to make fun of myself. If you’re not going to say this about me, I’m going to say it about myself. There are a lot of things I can say about me that would destroy me.
Offhand, I can’t think of it, but going into those battles and beefs, I remember thinking, “If he says something about this, I’m going to kill this motherfucker.” At the end of the day, it’s just words. Looking back, at the point I’m at with my life, I’m glad to be out of them because I’m not about that anymore.
Last summer you released a record going at Mariah Carey. Why even bother?
You know what? I got to be honest. I really don’t want to talk about her anymore only just because it’s kind of like the last thing I said about her was on “Cold Wind Blows.” I made the comment. (9) I don’t want to keep beating a dead horse. I’m not even going to comment about it. I’m done with that whole situation. I said what I had to say. I’m done.
Why are there barely any mentions of your mom, your ex-wife and your kids on Recovery?
It’s kind of where I’m at in my life. I also want to make a record without having to talk about these three things. Also, my kids are growing up, they have their own lives, and so I have to be careful about what I say. On “[Going Through] Changes,” I said (10) what I wanted to say about the whole situation and the rest is my own private, personal business, which is, you know, kind of my privilege.
Why is there no jokey first single?
About halfway through recording the record, I was probably thinking, one of those kind of singles isn’t going to make sense. It’s one of them things man . . . [I’ve] grown up so much just in the last couple of years since I’ve been sober. Relapse didn’t reflect that [or] where I really am mentally. (11)
5 “Technically, he’s the most skilled rapper I’ve ever heard” —producer DJ Khalil
6 “Hatred was flowing through my veins/on the verge of going insane/I almost made a song dissing Lil Wayne/It’s like I was jealous of him cause of the attention he was getting . . . Almost went at Kanye too” —Eminem, “Talkin’ 2 Myself”
7 “Thank God that I didn’t do it/I would have had my ass handed to me” —Eminem, “Talkin’ 2 Myself”
8 “I remember back when you had ‘The Knack’/and I remember when you had your first heart attack/I was right there laughing when I heard the news/I just wish the cardiac would have murdered you.” —Eminem, “I Remember”
9 “Take a look at Mariah next time I inspire you to write a song.” —Eminem, “Cold Wind Blows”
10 “Hailie this one is for you/ Whitney and Alaina too/I still love your mother, that’ll never change/think about her every day, we just could never get it together hey/wish there was a better way for me to say it/but I swear on everything, I’ll do anything for her on any day/. . . I know that it feels like we just pissed away our history/and just today, I looked at your picture, almost as if to say/I miss you subconsciously, wish it didn’t end this way/but I just had to get away, don’t know why, I don’t know what else to say,” —Eminem, “Going Through Changes”
11 “He is a lot more mature. He is more even-tempered.” —Royce Da 5’9”