Eminem on his new found maturity

(Daily Mirror, 2003)
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.

The semi-autobiographical film, which co-stars Kim Basinger, took $55million on its opening weekend in America and the soundtrack album went straight to No.1.

When asked 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.

His lyrics 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..."

The little 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 up.
"She is a character," he says proudly, "she has such a personality. She runs around making up little sayings and phrases..."

Eminem admits "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 for her."

The doting dad also confirms that he has changed a lot since he launched himself into the mainstream two years ago.

"Fame 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.

"I'm 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."

AND there are other signs that the bad boy is becoming a good man - he is considering a reconciliation with ex-wife Kim.

The tempestuous 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.

The couple 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 tough.

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.

"Both sides had the same income but it was black on one side, white on the other. And me growing up on both sides."

After years of being bullied in school, he found a kindred spirit in classmate Kim Scott and renamed himself Eminem (after his initials).

Her family 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.

Working as 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 trailer park.

But unlike 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 a leader.

"He's going through struggles with his family but he wants to make it and be a rapper."

Eminem's film has also rekindled curiosity about his relationship with mother, Debbie.

The inflammatory 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.

"It's a fictional story and I'm not even going to see it."

Eminem says 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.

"He doesn't 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.

After all, 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.

Top producer 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.

Hanson described Eminem as a natural movie star and spent an unheard-of six weeks rehearsing with him before shooting the film in Detroit.

He believed his star would shine in his hometown and he filled most of the support roles with Detroit natives.

The street 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".

OTHERS say 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 addictions.

But Eminem 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.

"But 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.

"The 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.

"You can make something of your life. It just depends on your drive. Breaking out is the point of the film."

Having broken 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.

"I want 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.


Eminem 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.

"I remember 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.' "

Nowadays, 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 bonkers.

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 ...

MTV: Jay-Z has a new album coming out where he says fame is both a gift and a curse. Do you agree with Jigga's assessment?

Eminem: You 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?

Eminem: The 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.

MTV: What was it like owning your first home?

Eminem: At 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 new house.

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?

Eminem: The 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.

MTV: Your 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?

Eminem: Yeah, 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.

MTV: Hailie 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?

Eminem: When 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" quality.

MTV: So will Hailie be getting any siblings anytime soon? Maybe you could spearhead a hip-hop Partridge family.

Eminem: No 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 is enough.

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?

Eminem: I 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 your life?

Eminem: I 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?

Eminem: I 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.

MTV: You've 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 grandmother?

Eminem: That's 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?

Eminem: I 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?

Eminem: No. 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.