Here’s the most fascinating story this week in hip hop.
Eminem went on Genius and annotated 42 lyrics from his extensive, classic catalogue.
Oooh, this was awesome. Among the tidbits revealed were how Eminem did “My Name Is” in one take, the origin of his Slim Shady persona, inspirations and creative processes for the likes of “Lose Yourself”, “Stan”, and “Sing for the Moment” and even the shoulder-shrug way he, 50, and Dre decided “In Da Club” would be the first single off Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
Here’s the link for all of the annotations and some of the excerpts below.
Eminem recalled his first studio session with Dr. Dre and the creation of “My Name Is,” a song that was recorded in one take and launched him into superstardom:
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.
Marshall explained where the name “Slim Shady” came from in an annotation on the song “Just Don’t Give A Fuck”:
Coming out with an alias was part of Proof’s whole idea. He said, “Let’s be in a group called D12, and there will be six of us, and we’ll each have an alias. We’ll each be two different people.” 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, you know what I’m saying? It was a way for me to be myself and say what I felt. I never wanted to go back to just rapping regular again.
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 the decision to make “In Da Club” the first single off 50 Cent‘s Interscope debut:
Eminem also annotated a vintage Biggie/2Pac Freestyle from 1999, commenting on past and present MCs:
There’s people who rap to make songs, just because they enjoy doing it and want to express themselves. And then there are people who rap competitively. I believe that anybody who competitively raps — like Drake and Kendrick and Jay Z — raps to be the best rapper. People diss each other, but it’s more in the vein of “How can I kill you with record sales? Or with a flow? How can I be better than you at making records, at punchlines, metaphors, wordplay, syllables?”
But when you have two rappers like Biggie and 2Pac getting into it, you get the hip hop community torn. No one wants to see something real happen. If for a second you entertain the idea of that being entertaining, if something ever happened out of that? No. That’s not healthy.