“When I started rapping as Shady, as that character, it was a way for me to vent all my frustrations and just blame it on him. If anybody got mad about it, it was him that said it”.
Lately many artists (and occasionally Pulitzer Prize winner authors) have taken to Genius to discuss their work. Today, Eminem tweeted that he checked out the site and decided to annotate some of his own tracks, telling some pretty fascinating stories in the process.
Heading to the page for his breakthrough single “My Name Is” Eminem described what his first recording session with Dr. Dre was like, his nervousness, and the producer’s bafflement that he would only record in uncut single takes. He later explained the origins of the Slim Shady character as the id persona that he could filter all of his worst thoughts into. Later he shared multiple annotations on his Academy Award winning single ‘Lose Yourself’ from the semi-autobiographical film 8-Mile. Read a few of Eminem’s reflections below.
On his first session with Dre:
Dre put on the Labi Siffre record, and I was just like “Hi! My name is!” That beat was talking to me. I was like, “Yo, this is it, this is my shot. If I don’t impress this guy, I’m going back home and I’m fucked.” I knew Dre wasn’t an easy person to please. I made sure that everything he had a beat for, I had a rhyme ready to go, or I came up with a rhyme on the spot
“My Name Is” was the first thing that came out of my mouth that first day I was at Dre’s house. I don’t know if we released what I did the first day or if I re-did it, but it was basically the same. I didn’t understand punching, or believe in it. So I would just go from the top of the song all the way down. I was never flying in hooks. Everything was live, one take. If I got all the way to the fucking end, and messed up the last word, I’d be like “Run it back, let’s do it again.” I remember Dre was like “Yo, are you fucking crazy? Let’s just punch.” I didn’t like that concept because I wasn’t used to it. When we were recording here in Detroit, in the beginning, I was saving up my money to go in. We only had an hour, you know? I’m like “One take down, alright, let’s go to the next song. Fuck it.” That’s what I was used to.
On how Dido’s ‘Thank You’ inspired ‘Stan’:
When I heard “your picture on my wall,” I was like “Yo, this could be about somebody who takes me too seriously.” So I knew what I was going to write about before I wrote it. A lot of times when I’m writing songs, I see visions for everything I’m writing. This was one of those.
On trying to ignore criticism early in his career:
This is where I was dealing with critics who didn’t understand why people were identifying with me. I realized I was becoming like the rappers that I looked up to as a kid. I identified with and loved LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. I felt like if everybody didn’t understand their music, it didn’t matter — they were speaking to me. So that’s what I was trying to make people realize on this track. I may not be shit to you, but there’s a kid in fucking Nebraska, or somewhere, that I’m talking to. I don’t care if you’re listening, because he’s listening. That’s who I’m directing my material at.
Head to Genius for more.