“Medicine Man,” one of the most powerful songs on the album. Talk me through making that song from beginning to end.
I wish I was there at the beginning, I can’t even lie to you. Dem Jointz and Candice Pillay, those are pretty much two of the five biggest stars on the album to me. Dem Jointz is an amazing alien that I’ve had the honor and pleasure of being united with. I got to meet him through Marsha Ambrosius, who’s another alien. I got to connect and work with him, but the record, they already had Eminem in mind and the record was on the cutting room floor, but when it came down to it Dre was like, “I need one more record, because I want to put Em on the album.” So we rallied behind Dem Jointz and Candice to get “Medicine Man” back on the working table.
Dre was like, “Em needs something bigger, it needs to be more theatrical for Em to come in.” So Dem Jointz allowed me to come in. He scrapped the entire second verse pretty much to the end of the record and he allowed me to orchestrate Eminem’s verse, so that’s why I’m on the production on there, because from Eminem’s verse on that’s my music. So that’s a blessing and I got Curt Chambers to come in and play guitar so it got a little bit of that “Lose Yourself” feeling, so I really wanted it to just feel familiar, but at the same time I wanted it to be bigger and better. And not disrespecting “Lose Yourself,” don’t get it twisted, that’s an Oscar-winning record. But you have to turn around and put yourself ahead of the game. I’m not gonna let [“Lose Yourself”] make me feel lower than I can. I was like, “Man I gotta get Eminem on this man. We gotta make it feel bigger and better.”
That was a shining point. That was a fourth quarter, 20 seconds on the clock type of shot, and they allowed me to be a part of that play, so I just appreciate them as well.
That whole section where Em comes in is nuts, so thank you for that. I’ve seen people saying they thought you turned up the volume when Em drops that crazy part.
Na when it comes down to it as far as mixing is concerned, everybody that knows Dr. Dre [knows] there are certain nuances that are…not going to be divulged, but these are things that make his records a direct fingerprint of who he is as a producer, and when that record does come in and those drums come in, because the initial strings that introduce Eminem were maniacal and I had them louder than what they are, but Dre knew exactly what needed to be introduced and what time it needed to be introduced and what feeling and what level.
All of that stuff is Dr. Dre, man, but as far as a volume rise and things like that, that’s all a part of a great mix and Dre understood that when it comes in, there’s gotta be a certain aggression. When the drums drop, there’s a certain aggression that happens because if you listen to Em’s verse, there are three levels of aggression. He doesn’t come in soft. He comes in aggressive, he gets more aggressive, and then there’s this absolute aggression that he rides up until the end where it says, “Fame and fortune.” So it’s amazing to introduce those stages and [have it all make] sense to every listener.
Did you see Em record that verse?
No, Eminem did that in Detroit so it was almost like Christmas [when we got it]. You walked downstairs and there’s a gift under the tree and you just wanna rip it open. So every time we got an email from Eminem and we got to hear what he was doing, it was really amazing. That was an amazing moment.