The interview came out around the time Eminem released Revival. Check it below.
Interviewer: I was only able to listen the new album once before talking to you, and I gotta say, hearing tracks like “Untouchable” and “Like Home,” where you’re rapping about systemic racism and politics–
Eminem: I know where you’re going.
– Where am I going?
– You want to know how I can rap about that stuff and also rap about fucking ridiculous shit.
– Yeah, though maybe I’d use a different word than ridiculous. There’s some dissonance hearing you — in the space of a couple tracks — go from trying to be good-faith woke about race and politics to being rough about women. Do those poles just coexist more peacefully for you than they do for me?
– They do, and how you think those things go together depends on what kind of fan of my music you are. Sometimes I’m trying to appease people who think, Man, I miss when Eminem was raw. But I’m not killing KimKim Scott, Eminem’s ex-wife (the couple were twice-married and twice-divorced) and the mother of his daughter, Hailie, makes frequent cameos in his lyrics as a kind of negative muse. After the release of Eminem’s “Kim” in 2000, she sued him for defamation. on songs anymore — we’re good now, and she’s the mother of my daughter. The truth is that going from one subject to a completely different one is a balancing act and I’m trying to give something to everyone. And as far as the attitude I have about those different subjects, I feel like I did when first I started out.
– Meaning what?
– Meaning I’m the same person. That’s not to say I haven’t matured — I’ve grown and sometimes I want to reflect that — but when I’m writing, a line will pop in my head that’s so fucking ridiculous that it’s funny, and depending on the punch lines I need and the rhyme schemes in the song maybe I’ll use it. Those are the things I’m thinking about with some lyrics, almost before the actual meaning. There’s a song on the new album, “Nowhere Fast,” and I say, “I must have got you / In somewhat of a debacle / Because some stuff that’s awful / Really don’t mean nothing.” There’s a lot of shit I say in jest that is tough to swallow. You know, there’s a book called Truly Tasteless Jokes; it’s all fucked up shit; it makes me laugh — and that kind of stuff is where my brain goes. I’m not saying I’ve never gone too far, but people shouldn’t be looking to me for political correctness.
– Except when you want them to, right? They involve politics more than political correctness but there are tracks on Revival where it sure seems like you’re asking people to take you seriously.
– Okay, it does depend on the song. People who know my music can tell when I’m joking around and when I’m being honest about a subject.
– A subject like Trump?
– He makes my blood boil. I can’t even watch the news anymore because it makes me too stressed out. All jokes aside, all punch lines aside, I’m trying to get a message out there about him. I want our country to be great too, I want it to be the best it can be, but it’s not going to be that with him in charge. I remember when he was first sniffing around politics, I thought, We’ve tried everything else, why not him? Then — and I was watching it live — he had that speech where he said Mexico is sending us rapists and criminals. I got this feeling of what the fuck? From that point on, I knew it was going to be bad with him. What he’s doing putting people against each other is scary fucking shit. His election was such a disappointment to me about the state of the country.
– When you were talking about Trump on the Shade 45 radio show, you sounded almost annoyed that he didn’t respond to your freestyleFor the BET Hip Hop Awards in October, Eminem released a freestyle titled “The Storm,” a four-minute, odd-metered roast of President Trump — and his supporters: “Any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his / I’m drawing in the sand, a line / You’re either for or against.” The performance has been viewed more than 41 million times on YouTube. about him. What do you want him to hear you say?
– It’s not so much about him hearing something I have to say, because there’s nothing I’m saying about him on Revival that he doesn’t already know about himself. It’s more that I want him to answer me because I got ideas for all kinds of shit to say back to him if he does.
– You’ve got the tweets pre-written?
– I’m not going to give any away now, but I’ve got lines ready if he says something about me. I get almost flustered thinking about him — that’s how angry he makes me. The people that support him are the people he cares about the least and they don’t even realize it. At what point do you — a working-class citizen, someone who’s trying to make shit better for you and your family — think this guy who’s never known struggle his entire fucking life, who avoided the military because of bone spurs, who says he’s a billionaire, is really looking out for you? He’s got people brainwashed.
– How do you hope the Trump presidency plays out in 2018?
– I hope he gets impeached. I’d be there for that.
– Your music is popular in some of the same parts of the country where Trump’s support is strongest. How do you reconcile your feelings about Trump with the likelihood that a lot of your fans like him too?
– How do I account for that? He’s very good at smoke screens. He’s very good at flipping narratives. I just want people to think about things: What has he really done for you in the year since he’s been in office? The tax cut is not going to help the middle class. It’s going to help Donald Trump. That people don’t see that is so discouraging. You know, there was even a time when I was mad at what was going on.
– Mad that people were supporting Trump?
– Yeah, Trump had me so mad with all his bullshit that I was thinking, I hope everybody who voted for him gets fucked and learns a lesson. But that was wrong. I don’t want any voters to get fucked; everyone’s trying to improve their lives. I just feel mad that Trump’s sold people a dream that’s never coming true. I want the division in this country to stop. And like I said, I most want people to take a second and think about what I’m saying.
– Seventeen or eighteen years ago, when you were first breaking through in a big way, you were being held up as this scary embodiment of white-working-class alienation. People said you were tapping into the same feelings that Trump is now tapping into, and speaking for the same — I was speaking for everybody: white, black, whatever nationality.
– The way you looked probably made a difference as to who was identifying with you most strongly.
That’s fair. That’s true.
– So given your position, do you feel like you have any unique insights on Trumpism?
– I did have a feeling early that he could win. Pretty much everyone I knew was like, “No, he can’t get elected” and I was watching those rallies going, “Yo, man, this shit is real.” But I don’t know if that has anything to do with any parallels between me and him. I took the fact I was poor white trash and I owned it. So I could understand why people who grew up in similar situations would relate to what I was saying. But I don’t know, man, the differences between me and him are bigger than any parallels. He’s made the racists come out. He’s made it acceptable for the white man to feel oppressed. I’m just calling bullshit bullshit: I actually don’t know if I can see why people who relate to me feel like they can relate to him. This is a guy who was born rich, who says he got a small loan from his father of a million dollars. Where I come from, a small loan is five fucking bucks.
– Considering the apparent overlap between your supporters and Trump’s supporters, I do think it took some courage for you to be so explicit about your political feelings — it’s easy enough to go online and see that you did alienate fans. But what about artists who aren’t willing to take that risk? I’m thinking of someone like Taylor Swift, who is so good about speaking to certain issues that seem antithetical to Trump’s worldview, but then won’t take the next step and speak out about him. Do musicians with a massive platform — and a bipartisan audience — have a moral responsibility to engage with politics?
– I don’t know anything about Taylor Swift’s situation. I can only speak for me, not her. I do feel like when you have a platform, it’s important to use your voice. You can loudly call bullshit on things that not everyone can. I don’t know if anyone has a responsibility to do that. That’s something they’d have to look inside themselves and figure out. That’s what I did, and I decided I needed to speak out.
– What do you think of Kid RockA fellow Michigander and a stalwart Trump supporter, the rap-rocker (born Robert Ritchie), seemingly teased a Senate run earlier this year. Also earlier this year: Fans at a Detroit Pistons home game booed Kid Rock and cheered Eminem when the two were shown, separately, on a video screen during a break in play. ’s politics?
– You mean him running for Senate? Me and Bob have been friends since way back in the day, but I haven’t spoken to him in a while. The last time I did was when the thing happened to his assistant. I reached out and told him I was here for him. As far as the politics, I’m not up on what he’s doing. I couldn’t tell if he really wanted to run for senator or was just fucking around.
– This interview will run after the album’s been out for a few days. In all likelihood, Revival will sell wellEminem is the highest-selling rapper of all time, with over 130 million units sold since 1996. All his albums since The Marshall Mathers LP have debuted on top of the Billboard 200. and have a pretty mixed critical reaction.
– That’s what happens every album with me.
– Okay, so if we know that’s going to happen, what other signs are you looking for that will make you feel encouraged or discouraged by the album’s reception?
– I don’t know, I’ve always felt in touch with the people who listen to my music. I make it for them. Anybody else, fuck ‘em. It’s fine if critics or whoever keep thinking I’m not as good as I was. So what I’m looking for — whatever the response or the sales — is things I did right or things I could’ve improved musically. I’m critical of myself and I’m always trying to figure out how to do better. I certainly have not had a perfect career. I’ve put out bad albums.
– Which ones are you thinking of?
– Encore was mediocre, and with Relapse — it was the best I could do at that point in time. [Relapse] was a funny album for me because I was just starting back rapping after coming out of addiction. I was so scatterbrained that the people around me thought that I might have given myself brain damage. I was in this weird fog for months. Like, literally I wasn’t making sense; it had been so long since I’d done vocals without a ton of Valium and Vicodin. I almost had to relearn how to rap.
– Is that where all the weird accents on that album came from?
– I recorded at least 50 to 60 songs for that album and on each one I would get a little more drastic with the accents, trying to bend the words and make them rhyme in ways they wouldn’t if you just said them regular. It was this gradual thing and I didn’t even realize how accent-heavy the album got. [Rosenberg] didn’t realize it either until he went and played the music for somebody at Interscope and they were like, “Why is he doing all those accents?” So yeah, I don’t know how much replay value that album has.
– What was the issue with Encore?
– I’m cool with probably half that album. I recorded that towards the height of my addiction. I remember four songs leaked and I had to go to L.A. and get Dre Since first hearing Eminem’s ’97 Slim Shady EP, NWA member, producer, Aftermath founder, and Beats Electronics CEO Dr. Dre has had an influential hand in Eminem’s career, co-producing all of his albums. and record new ones. I was in a room by myself writing songs in 25, 30 minutes because we had to get it done, and what came out was so goofy. That’s how I ended up making songs like “Rain Man” and “Big Weenie.” They’re pretty out there. If those other songs hadn’t leaked, Encore would’ve been a different album.
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