When LAUNCH's executive editor, Dave DiMartino, visited with Eminem backstage at Saturday Night Live in New York City--to discuss the Shady One's new album, The Eminem Show, and upcoming semi-autobiographical movie, 8 Mile--Mr. Mathers was his usual colorful and candid self, discussing everything from "dirty whores," Batman, and Jerry Springer to more serious subjects like his record label, his new health kick, growing up in Detroit, and the trials of being one of the most controversial celebrities around today. Whether he's in the studio, onstage, or in the interview hot seat, Eminem always has something interesting, funny, and/or shocking to say, and LAUNCH's Q&A was no exception. Here's how it went:
LAUNCH: First off, tell me about your movie, 8 Mile.
EMINEM: OK, the movie is not my life. It's not my life story. I don't play me in it. I play a kid similar to me--his name is Jimmy Smith Jr.--in the movie. And it's basically just a hip-hop movie, but it's like a dramatic...I don't think there's been a hip-hop movie yet that's had to deal with the music and been just dramatic and still be a hip-hop movie. You know, it's a big construction, it's a big deal. Like, it's a story about the music, it's a story about where this kid grows up, and how he grows up. And like, the borderline of 8 Mile is basically the color line in Detroit--it separates the city from the suburbs. And it doesn't necessarily separate rich from poor, but it seems like the color borderline, you know, and it's about this kid who grows up kind of on both sides of it, and he's caught in between, this whole thing. Being embarrassed about where he lives and being white, and being stupid, and being dumb and...
LAUNCH: How was it taking direction on the set?
EMINEM: I was cool with taking direction from Curtis [Hanson, also the director of L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys]. Like, in this game, in acting, I'm a student. So I was there to learn. I didn't want to just step into something and think, you know, "I got this." If I had that type of attitude, the movie probably wouldn't have come out as good as it has--or is going to.
LAUNCH: How was it working with professional actors?
EMINEM: It was cool, it gave me something to feed off of. You know, if there's somebody in the scene that is, like, not doing their job or really sucks in the scene, then you have to try to bring it back, bring the scene back up. But with every actor in the movie, I didn't have to do that. They probably had to do it with me.
LAUNCH: What is the difference between the 8 Mile soundtrack and your other albums?
EMINEM: Well, I mean, the music is gonna be similar to what, you know, you would expect from Eminem. But like, lyrically and things like that, thematically, it's different. Thematically, it takes you back--it takes me back--to that time before I was famous. The movie [takes place] in '95, so it's pre-Eminem and things like that, so the songs that I have on the soundtrack, I just talking about this kid and what he's going through, in his head. And things like that, and trying to express it. So it's different.
LAUNCH: What were your goals when making your other album out this year, The Eminem Show?
EMINEM: Um, well, with this album, more than anything, I was trying to show growth. I feel like I grown, as an artist, like, mentally, and like, my d--k has gotten a lot bigger. I grown like an inch, since, the last two albums. And I just basically wanted to show growth, with my penis.
LAUNCH: How do you cope with lack of privacy that comes with being a notorious celebrity?
EMINEM: Yeah, it gets a little agitating at times, but I don't know, you gotta take the good with the bad, the pluses with the minuses, the positive with the negative, you know? It's a drag sometimes, but, whatever. I just deal with it.
LAUNCH: Were you a big fan of the Batman TV show?
EMINEM: Um, yeah, growing up, I was a big fan of Batman. Batman, Spiderman, Superman--you know, superheroes growing up or whatever--it was my thing for a minute. As with any kid, who grew up in the '70's, '80s.
LAUNCH: Did you have fun doing the superhero stuff in your video for "Without Me"?
EMINEM: Yeah...I have fun with every video, but I think this video was definitely my funnest video. I banged a couple chicks...yeah, this video was definitely my funnest video.
LAUNCH: How did you come up with the title The Eminem Show?
EMINEM: Well, the way that I came up with the title was basically, I had The Slim Shady LP, and I had The Marshall Mathers LP, and it was kind of predictable what was coming next. But I wouldn't have been able to do that, and I didn't have plans to do that in the beginning--like, that wasn't the initial plan. I didn't have it all mapped out to do that. But I knew that people would predict it, and want it, but if I couldn't do it in the right way and didn't have a theme for it, then I couldn't, you know? I didn't want to just call it The Eminem LP. It became The Eminem Show. just by recording songs--as I, you know, built the first song, second song, third song, by the fifth song it started all coming together, as one story or whatever. And I was watching some interviews that I had did back last year, and I was talking about how my life is kind of like The Jerry Springer Show and my life is like a show and this and that. And I just hit me like, "Huh, why not? The Eminem Show!"
LAUNCH: What's up with Shady Records?
EMINEM: Shady Records is my label--um, it's through Interscope, of course, but it's my label. It's the label that I put D12 out on. It's the label that, the soundtrack is coming out on. And also, I had one other artist signed, his name is Obie Trice, but he is in jail right now--but don't tell them that I told you he's in jail. But Obie is featured on The Eminem Show and he's just this young dude who just like, spits. He spits. And he's got a star quality about him, and he's from Detroit--like every artist I've signed so far is from Detroit--and that's kinda how I'm gonna keep it in the family. So like, no matter what Detroit says about me, how much dirt they want to spread and gossip, I'm doing something for the city. So suck my d--k.
LAUNCH: Are you a hometown hero in Detroit?
EMINEM: It's mixed--it's appreciation, it's hate, it's jealousy, it balances out. Not everybody is gonna hate me or love me, no matter where I'm from. Like, no matter what city you're from, if you grew up there and you still come from there, it's just like any other city in the world. There's still that little balance there, it's like a love-hate type relationship. But you know, it's cool with me. I'm like, "Whatever," I don't care what people say.
LAUNCH: What do you like best about being in the music business?
EMINEM: Well, I can tell you what's fun--it's making the records, going out and performing them. Because that's like, an artist crafting. It's an artist crafting his sculpture and then taking it to an art museum and showing people. Like, that's basically how it is for me. So I have fun, making the music, performing the music, doing the videos. The rest of the sh-t, this sh-t [doing interviews], I don't like it. This is where it becomes work. But I know that, I've learned to accept that, you know, what I have to do in this business to be able to bring people to my show, and have them see me, and rock in front of crowds and stuff like that. So you know, I've accepted that it is a business, and it is work aside from, you know, pleasure and f--king dirty whores and things like that.
LAUNCH: Do you plan to remarry in the future, or are you currently dating?
EMINEM: I'd rather have a baby through my penis than be married again. Currently, I am not really seeing anyone, but, Shannon Elizabeth, if you're watching this...you know, I'm open. So holler.
LAUNCH: What is your natural hair color?
LAUNCH: Did you make some changes in your appearance for your movie?
EMINEM: Yeah, I went on a little workout regimen. I got on this little workout kick and started eating f--king granola bars and being healthy for a minute. You know, I'm on probation, so I can't really do much anyway. So I might as well, like, get in shape. And I cut my hair off and grew it back to its natural color, so that's my natural color hair in the movie. Green.
LAUNCH: Do you feel good about your body?
EMINEM: No, I'm dying. [laughs] No, I mean, I feel good, I feel good. I feel focused now, more than ever. Than I ever have been.
LAUNCH: Do you have love in your soul?
EMINEM: I got my love in my pants. Love in my soul? Yeah, of course I do. I got love for my daughter, I got love for my music. And anything else? Nah.
LAUNCH: Since everyone says they are your cousins, do you have that big of a family?
EMINEM: The f--king world is my cousin. Trying to buy a house big enough, this year, to fit them all in. It may stop people from knocking on my door, if I just let them move in.
LAUNCH: Is being Eminem hard?
EMINEM: Hmm...it's not easy being me. Is it hard? My d--k is hard a lot. Which doesn't really make a difference. A bulge in my pants. But, um, is it hard being me? Sometimes it is, sometimes it has its benefits--dirty whores. They throw themselves at you, at will.
LAUNCH: Can you handle things thrown at you this way?
EMINEM: Um, I've had people try to burn me, but I don't know...like, if I feel like I'm being backed into a corner, and I need to match wits with somebody, then I think I'm pretty good at it.