on his new found maturity
It's a terrible irony for a man who made his reputation by being
foul-mouthed, angry and offensive to as many people as possible.
Rapper Eminem once thrived on his notoriety but now finds himself
being held up as a shining example to American youth.
If that wasn't enough, the 30-year-old former rebel is being tipped
for an Oscar for his acting debut in the gritty 8 Mile, which
opens in Britain on Friday.
film, which co-stars Kim Basinger, took $55million on its opening
weekend in America and the soundtrack album went straight to No.1.
to explain his transition from white trash hero to national icon,
Eminem - real name Marshall Mathers III - shrugs and says he was
never really understood in the first place.
"They portrayed me as a vicious, vile, evil person,"
he says. "But I wouldn't have got anywhere in this business
if I was just a complete a**hole."
It seems that
the raging star - who had vowed to urinate on the White House
lawns - was actually satirising those who point accusing fingers
at rap culture and warn of the copycat behaviour it incites.
put it better: "It's all political, if my music is literal/and
I'm a criminal/how the f**k can I raise a little girl?/I couldn't,
I wouldn't be fit to..."
girl he refers to is his six-year-old daughter Hailie, the only
thing apart from his music that makes Eminem's blue eyes light
"She is a character," he says proudly, "she has
such a personality. She runs around making up little sayings and
"having a soft spot for kids, with my own being number one
on my list. She's growing up and I'm trying to set an example
dad also confirms that he has changed a lot since he launched
himself into the mainstream two years ago.
hit me like a ton of bricks," he explains. "I was pulled
in every direction. I got caught up in the drinking and the drugs,
the fighting and just wilding out.
proud of myself for pulling through all that and my criminal cases,
my divorce. If I was still on drugs and living the life I lived
three years ago, I'd be a failure."
are other signs that the bad boy is becoming a good man - he is
considering a reconciliation with ex-wife Kim.
pair, together for 15 years, split in June 2000 after Kim's flirtations
with another man provoked Eminem into brawling and brandishing
a gun. He received two years probation.
divorced in October 2001, weeks after Kim gave birth to a daughter
fathered by another man. But Eminem is thinking of having his
tattoo, "Kim: Rot in Hell", removed - another sign that
he has mellowed.
He had a lot
to get over after a working-class upbringing that was unquestionably
The only child
of a teenage bride, whose husband abandoned them when he was 18
months old, he and his mother Debbie "kept getting kicked
out of every house we were in".
When he was
12, mother and son finally settled in a small house on Eight Mile
Road - the dividing line between Detroit's black and white communities
which he has now captured on film. "It's the borderline,"
he explains, "It wasn't like rich or poor on either side.
sides had the same income but it was black on one side, white
on the other. And me growing up on both sides."
of being bullied in school, he found a kindred spirit in classmate
Kim Scott and renamed himself Eminem (after his initials).
was as troubled as his and she moved in with the Mathers when
she was 13. But after five turbulent years under the same roof,
Debbie had had enough. When she insisted that Kim move out, Eminem
went with her.
a dishwasher and cleaner by day, he spent his nights trying to
break into Detroit's hip-hop scene.
The film 8
Mile describes a week in the life of Jimmy "Rabbit"
Smith Jr, who lives with his mother and sister in a depressing
Eminem, who has feuded with his mother for years, Jimmy has a
loving relationship with his alcoholic mother. The star is passionate
about the story. "The movie is about Jimmy coming out of
his shell and finding his own way, not being a follower, being
going through struggles with his family but he wants to make it
and be a rapper."
has also rekindled curiosity about his relationship with mother,
lyrics on his 1999 debut, The Slim Shady LP, prompted an $11million
defamation suit by Debbie, who eventually settled for $25,000.
And she is unlikely to be impressed by Basinger's alcoholic character.
She recently dismissed the film, saying: "I don't care about
the drug-crazed mother in 8 Mile.
a fictional story and I'm not even going to see it."
of his mother in the film: "Jimmy's embarrassed by her. He's
ashamed at what she is and doesn't want to become that.
want to fall into that same hole. He wants to be able to pull
himself out of that, pull his little sister out of it and maybe,
eventually, pull his mother out of it, too." His commitment
to the project isn't a great surprise.
he struggled against the odds for seven years to become a respected
artist, until a second-place finish at the 1997 Rap Olympics in
LA got him a record deal.
Dr Dre signed him, groomed him and wised him up the business.
He may have failed the 9th grade three times before dropping out
of school but Eminem has become a shrewd operator.
For his film
debut, he surrounded himself with the same kind of top talent
that has made him the best-selling rap artist.
8 Mile is
directed by Oscar winner Curtis Hanson, the man behind LA Confidential
and Wonder Boys, and produced by Oscar-winner Brian Grazer, whose
credits include A Beautiful Mind.
Eminem as a natural movie star and spent an unheard-of six weeks
rehearsing with him before shooting the film in Detroit.
his star would shine in his hometown and he filled most of the
support roles with Detroit natives.
where Eminem spent his teen years is lined with bars, repair shops
and trailer parks and Hanson likened Eminem to "a flower
struggling through a crack in the cement".
he has more in common with a young Elvis - both popularised a
black musical style and then set out to conquer Hollywood.
Both had teenage
brides and daughters they adored. Both also struggled to overcome
disagrees, pointing out that he sings songs he has written, is
in charge of his own career, and, unlike Elvis, will now remain
clean and sober.
He also never
contemplated starring on screen. "My only scheme was to be
a rapper," he says. "My dream was like, let me get a
record deal, let me go gold and I'll be happy. Let me make a living
off what I do.
in 2000, people were offering me roles and I thought it was something
I might want to dabble in. But I was doing the music so much,
I thought I'd do films later."
He was even
reluctant to read the script for 8 Mile. "Well, reading is
the worst thing in the world for me to do. I hate it. But I read
the first couple of pages and couldn't stop.
positive aspect of the movie is that no matter where you come
from, you can break out of it if your mentality and drive is right.
can make something of your life. It just depends on your drive.
Breaking out is the point of the film."
out of his own 8 Mile, Eminem is pondering what to do next. "I
need drama in my life to keep making music," he says.
to solidify as an artist and show that as I grow as a person and
make mistakes and learn from them, I'm going to grow artistically.
interview at MTV
Eminem's current mode of transportation has none of the plush
luxuries you would assume a rapper might have in his traveling
venue: no TV, no PlayStation 2, no DVD player and no roof.
"Throw it up," the Detroit rhyme Goliath says, looking
down at an anxious fan waving a CD. Eminem's in New York City,
traveling with a small entourage around Manhattan on a double-decker
bus, made for tourists to go site-seeing. But Slim Shady is the
spectacle today as he rides downtown from Times Square.
them days, just being so f---ing hungry," Eminem laughs after
trying to catch the guy's CD that was flung to him from street
level. "People will go to such lengths. I would do anything
to let people hear my sh--. I didn't care, [I was like] 'Please
dub my sh--, please listen to my demo.' "
there aren't too many people who haven't heard Eminem's irresistible
irreverence, and while he loves to be heard, nothing will ever
beat a day at home chilling with his daughter, Hailie Jade. And
while his young one thinks her dad's gone crazy, Eminem insists
he's quite the sane one. It's the world around him that's gone
Atop the double-decker
and on a hotel roof in Manhattan, Shaheem Reid and Sway Calloway
got the lowdown on Marshall Mathers, the man. Among the things
they chatted about were how he rates himself as a dad, what he
thinks of his own father, why he doesn't cover himself in ice
and what it feels like to have strangers jumping into your pool
has a new album coming out where he says fame is both a gift and
a curse. Do you agree with Jigga's assessment?
gotta take the ups and downs with it. Fame has got its pros and
cons. The pros would be you don't have to ride one of these [double-
decker buses] anymore. The cons would be all the craziness that
comes with it. When you get rid of some of your small problems,
like having bills, [and then transition] to getting to where somebody
like me or Jay-Z is, you have a whole new slew of problems, like
lawsuits and other things I never knew could exist.
MTV: The tour
is going well and you've sold millions of records, but you're
one of the few rappers that we never hear talking about ice or
cars or your bank account. What do you do with your money? Better
yet, what's the first big-ticket item you bought?
first big-ticket item that I bought was a house. When I first
started seeing money, I treated that like it was the only house
I would ever buy and the only royalty check that I would ever
get. That's how I treat every [check]. The truth is, you don't
know what's gonna happen tomorrow. This is a crazy ride and nothing
is guaranteed. I could wake up tomorrow and this could all be
over. You have to invest.
was it like owning your first home?
the time I bought it, I had no idea how famous I really was. It
was across the street from a trailer park and we had kids coming
across all day knocking on the door. We had a pool in the backyard,
kids were jumping in the pool. It was crazy. The house was on
a main road so we had people whipping in my driveway like, "Em,
what up?" I literally couldn't go outside my house. So we
deaded that real quick, sold the house, lost money and bought
a new house. That's probably the best investment I've made, my
MTV: You say
you weren't aware of your fame when you first started blowing
up. When did you start sensing how popular you were becoming?
first time I really sensed it was flipping through channels and
seeing my face on every channel. You kind of get sick of yourself.
The first time I experienced it was probably walking through a
mall or something and not realizing how many people really know
who you are. I probably got the most unmistakable nose and chin
in the business. Sometimes I'll go out and cover up [most] of
my face. If they see one eye [people know it's me], it's crazy.
daughter Hailie is obviously a huge inspiration in your life and
music, and the two of you have even recorded a song together.
But does she know the depths of her daddy's fame yet?
she knows. She's six and she's getting the grasp of that whole
thing. She's starting to realize. She goes to school like, 'My
dad's on TV,' and these other kids, their dads aren't on TV.
is becoming a mini celeb in her own right. She seemed really comfortable
recording "My Dad's Gone Crazy." Do you see her following
in your footsteps and making music when she gets older?
she's 25, maybe she can. She's gotta grow up first. She scares
me a little bit 'cause she's got that "little star"
MTV: So will
Hailie be getting any siblings anytime soon? Maybe you could spearhead
a hip-hop Partridge family.
more kids. I'm good with Hailie. I'll spoil her and give her everything
I never had. I have other family members that I take care of and
want to take care of, but as far as kids, I'm cool. No more, one
MTV: As you
approach the big 3-0, are you getting this whole parenting thing
down pat? How would you rate yourself as a father?
do the best I can right now. I truly believe I'm doing the right
thing and I do a good job. I'm a father before anything. I'm a
father before I pick up the mic. I'm a father before I'm Eminem.
Of course I'm not the perfect parent. There may be things I'm
doing wrong and I'll find out in 10, 15 years, but right now I'm
doing the best job I can and that's all I can do.
MTV: As much
as she depends on you, in "Say Goodbye Hollywood" you
liken Hailie to sort of your lifeline, saying "I gotta get
up, thank God/ I got a little girl/ And I'm a responsible father/
So not a lot of good I'd be to my daughter/ Layin' in the bottom
of the mud ..." Do you think that your daughter has saved
think that in a roundabout way she did save my life. I always
had drive coming up and I always wanted to make it as a rapper.
That was my dream. But when she was born, it was the reality of
"I have to do this." I had nothing else. I had no high
school education. I want her to be able to grow up and look back
on this and be like — whether people agree with it or not
— "My dad put me on a song. My dad wrote songs for
me, my dad said my name all over the place." I want her to
be able to look back in magazines and everything and just know.
I don't ever wanna be like my father was to me.
MTV: In the
video for "Cleaning Out My Closet," you talk a lot about
your mother, but some of the most mind-searing images portray
your recollection of how your father treated you and your mother.
Have you ever tried to reach out to him?
have never spoke to my father and I never will. I'm cool. It's
not a void in my life, [I don't feel there's something] missing
or anything. I'm happy and I've got who I need in my life and
I think I've found a peace, an inner peace. I don't feel like
I ever need to meet him one day and be like, "Oh my life
is complete." I don't want to know him.
been feuding with your mother for quite some time, you've dissed
her numerous times in songs and even took a couple of shots at
her during the Anger Management Tour. What type of toll, if any,
has your estrangement taken on Hailie's relationship with her
a difficult situation because my little brother lives with me
now so my mother occasionally has to come there. I know that I
can't imagine what goes on in a six-year-old's head. I know there's
probably part of [Hailie] that maybe wants to see her grandmother
but she doesn't know what's going on, and I just basically keep
her sheltered from it. When [my mother] does come to the house,
I try to occupy Hailie. When she's old enough and she wants to
know her grandmother, she can make that decision on her own. But
as of right now, I'm not gonna subject my daughter to any of that.
MTV: You have
a first-hand perspective of what it's like to come from a home
where the parents are not together. How much of an effect do you
think your divorce from Kim will have on Hailie?
think that it's good that this happened while Hailie was real
young and didn't get so used to seeing her mother and father together
all the time. I think it's better we did it early because sh--
was rocky for a while ... I don't wanna subject my seed to that
type of turmoil, 'cause it was turmoil a couple years ago. I think
that right now when I look at it, she's a happy little girl. To
me she doesn't show any signs that something's bothering her or
anything like that. Maybe when she gets older she could tell me,
maybe it was something I didn't know.
MTV: So now
that you're single once again, are you going the Puffy route and
looking for a new girl to ride, ride, ride?
I'm not looking for a new woman. I'm cool being single —
not to say I don't get down (laughing). But as far as a relationship
or getting married again, I'm cool, man. I learned my lesson and
I've seen what it is and what it can and can't be and I feel like
I've learned enough from my first mistake. Let that be the last
one and keep moving forward. Relationships? No.