On this day, exactly 5 Years ago (July 5, 2011), Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″ released “Lighters,” featuring Bruno Mars, off Hell: The Sequel EP. Below is the Complex interview about how the track was created:
Royce da 5’9”: “My manager gave me the beat from this kid Battle Roy who’s a producer from Minnesota. So I presented it to Em before I wrote anything to it. He liked the idea. It was one of those ideas that just sat around for a minute, and one day Em was like, ‘You know what? I think I might have an idea for that ‘Lighters’ record you gave me.’”
Eminem: “Yeah, we were doing other shit in between, and that was one that I liked but I wasn’t completely sold on it. I think at that point in time what happened was I had to do some more shit with him, for me personally like, ‘Lets do some more hip-hop, just rhyming shit.’ Because I felt like that one had potential to be a hit, and it was like, ‘We have that, if we want to pull that one out,’ and we went back to doing other things, and I just came back around at, like, the 80% point on some, ‘I might have something for this.’”
Royce da 5’9”: “There was a reference hook on it that the producer wrote that was kind of similar [to the final version], and for some reason I was just hearing Bruno Mars’ voice on it.”
Eminem: “It was Royce’s idea originally to put Bruno on it when the reference hook was there. He was like, ‘Yo what if Bruno did this?’ And I was like, ‘That’d be fucking crazy,’ but I kind of felt like if Bruno got on it, it could be out-of-here, and I wanted to make sure that we got our emcee songs done first. And although neither one of us wanted to compromise anything on the track, knowing where Bruno could take it, we still wanted to keep it gutter, lyrically.
“Bruno’s voice is crazy. He’s one of those dudes that’s out right now that’s got so much appeal because of the way he sings and the way he delivers. But long story short, we approached Bruno and asked him if he’d be part of it.”
Paul Rosenberg (Eminem’s Manager, and President of Shady Records and CEO of Goliath Artists): “When Em was out in L.A. for the Grammys, Bruno was out there as well and we got them together at Em’s hotel so that Em could play him the song and see if he wanted to get on it.
“They had their parts of the record done and we reached out to him probably at some point before the Grammys and we kept seeing if we could find a time for them to actually get together because they had never met and it’s kind of weird to just do a track with someone you’ve never met.
“It happened over the course of a couple of months. Bruno had to leave town and go to Europe and do some shows, but before he left to go to Europe he sent us what he had come up with. Then while he was gone Marshall took that and married it to what he already had and then sent it back.”
Eminem: “He was down, and he had said that he’d want to switch up the words a little bit and mess around with the melody. So he did and also made a new bridge and added some music. I added some more music and we just kind of put it all together.”
Paul Rosenberg (Eminem’s Manager, and President of Shady Records and CEO of Goliath Artists): “There was like three phases to recording this EP. There was the beginning phase with Mr. Porter. There was the next phase where everyone sent in their tracks and there was the later phase where they felt like some of the material was getting old and they just wanted a couple more records.
“The middle phase was where ‘Lighters’ was created. The thing about this project and the reason we made it an EP is nobody wanted it to have this sort of pressure that’s involved with putting out an album. Especially an Eminem album. There’s certain expectations, and all sorts of things that make the creative process different.
“So we felt that making it an EP would allow the guys the freedom to just really do what they wanted to do and make the record that they wanted to make. Because if you put it out as an album and you had all these tracks of this really dense, intricate, complex, aggressive rapping it’s hard to fit that into the radio world.
“So the idea that I think Royce had for the “Lighters” track was, ‘Well let’s see if we can give something that maybe will step away from this and give us a chance to get in some attention away from only our core fan base.’”
You can also watch behind the scenes of “Lighters” music video below: