I was waiting for the first single’s video. I had visions of you dressed up like Tiger Woods and surrounded by porn stars.
Which would have been so predictable.
You do target another celebrity though. Ben Roethlisberger gets it bad on “Almost Famous.” (12) What are your thoughts on his situation?
That’s a tricky one. I don’t have any thoughts on it. To be honest, I don’t have an opinion whether he did it or didn’t. I do know that he certainly puts himself in bad positions. It was a hot topic. And that’s kind of what I’ve done for my whole career—take hot topics and talk about them. Although it may sound like a personal stab, it wasn’t like, “I’m out to get this guy.” If I was out to do that, I would have elaborated on it more. It’s just how I wanted to start the song. First of all, I’m not defending him but he’s a fucking great quarterback and it’s a shame that something like this would happen or he would allow it to happen or he would put himself in these situations where he would allow it to happen.
Do you think people overlook your artistry because you are a provocateur?
Maybe sometimes in the past. I think that sometimes people just never took it for what it was. A lot of times people tried to find deeper meanings in shit. I think a lot of people early on didn’t understand the fact that I was doing it to try and piss you off.
Did you think those critics were stupid?
I was thinking that a lot. It was funny to sit back and watch what a stink I’m making because I never knew I could make a stink in this world. Little old Marshall, like, “How the fuck could I do this?”
Other critics called you the voice of a generation. Did you buy into that?
I don’t know. I’m trying to think how I felt back then. It’s so weird man. I don’t mean to sound like an asshole but things were moving so fast for me that I don’t know if I took time to stop and feel or be able to assess what was going on around me. I just remember moving so fast. It was way too big back then for me to actually grasp what was happening. You know what?
I got to use the bathroom.
[Two minutes later.] On Recovery, you mention “the perfect verse” several times. What’s the closest you’ve come?
Every verse that I put out on this album. And by perfect, I don’t mean the best verse ever. I mean that I got it to where it’s good enough for me. There will be shit that two years from now, I will think I could have said better. I always feel like I can do shit better. If this album isn’t better than my last one, then why am I doing it? Honestly, I don’t know how much longer I have in this game. I’m always going to love hip-hop. But how much longer am I going to still do it? I couldn’t really give you an answer. But the day that this is not better than the last will probably be the day I stop.
You sure don’t need the money. Well, I hope you don’t need the money.
I hope so too. Shit.
I can’t picture you quitting because you seem to really love hip-hop.
I do love it so much. But even if I was rapping at 50 [years old], I don’t know if I would put it out. I know it always makes me feel better to lay things to tape, and—“Lay the tape.” See, I’m old school. The fans might say the shit is garbage. You don’t how long people are going to want you around . . . Realistically, if I don’t rap, what the fuck am I going to do? It’s too late to just be unfamous right now at this point.
Do you go out more in public?
In public? As far as doing regular things? I think I do. (13) I go out more than in the five-year period that I was using.
Do you consider yourself normal?
Normal by whose standards?
I don’t consider myself a star. Obviously, I know I’m a celebrity but I don’t look at myself in that light. I’m just me, man. It’s one of the reasons that I stay here [in Detroit]. I don’t want the attention. I don’t like the attention. I don’t like all that shit. Yes, I love the respect and the admiration that some people show me but I don’t thrive off that whole thing. I just want to be regular.
What were your thoughts when you heard that your 8 Mile co-star Brittany Murphy had passed?
It was crazy. It’s crazy. It’s crazy because at one point we were very close and she was a really good person. It’s crazy when you see things not just with her but just all these things that are happening in Hollywood with people in music, with people in acting . . .
. . . famous people.
Famous people. Famous people are overdosing at alarming rates and—that almost sounded like a commercial. Wow.
It sounded like a Sally Struthers commercial. “Please give to this charity.”
Right. But they are. And it’s one of those things man where you’re famous, doctors will kiss your ass because they love the celebrity. “Oh, I can call up Eminem and get him on the phone right now. Oh, hi Marshall, how are you doing? Do you need that [prescription]?” There are doctors that will give you certain things just because of who you are.
That is mind-boggling.
That is fucked up. You tell them what you need. You don’t need to go in and see them. They will just write you a [prescription] because they want that connection with you.
Do you think about your own death?
Yeah, I do. A lot. I think about it a lot. I try not to think about it, but I do and it creeps me the fuck out. It creeps me out because they say that if I got to the hospital two hours later then I would be gone. I think about that a lot. When I lay in bed at night is when I think about it the most. It creeps me out man.
A cynic would say that your story is depressing. It seems you have everything—fame, fortune, respect, talent—yet life still manages to kick you in the ass.
If you would look at it from a pessimist’s point of view, you can look at it like that. Yeah, life does seem to find a way to kick me in the ass but at the same time, I try not to look at it like that anymore. I stopped carrying around my fucking woes and started counting my blessings. I’ve got so much to be thankful for. I’ve got so much to live for.
12 “I stuck my dick in this game like a rapist, they call me Slim Roethlisberger.” —Eminem, “Almost Famous”
13 “I see what he goes through when he’s out in public. He’s come to terms that he will probably never go to the mall again. He’s accepted it. He never was the club type, [anyway]. He’s always been such a homebody.” —Royce Da 5’9”