The Serious Side of Eminem

The Rolling Stone Interview

By TOUREPosted Nov 25, 2004 12:00 AM

Teach them right from wrong as best I can, try not to lose my temper, try to set guidelines and rules and boundaries. Never lay a hand on them. Let them know it's not right for a man to ever lay his hands on a female. Despite what people may think of me and what I say in my songs — you know, me and Kim have had our moments — I'm tryin' to teach them and make them learn from my mistakes. It's almost like juggling — juggling the rap life and fatherhood.

Well, in the nexus of that juggling is Hailie, who's in some of your songs, like "My Dad's Gone Crazy," from "The Eminem Show." Does she get to hear the songs she's in?

Most of the time I'll make clean versions of the songs and play them in the car. When she made "My Dad's Gone Crazy," it's a crazy little story. If I feel like I'm working too much, I let the kids come up to the studio. I get this little guilt trip inside, so I would have Kim just bring her up and let her hang around the studio. So me and Dre were working together, and Hailie was running around the studio and she was like [in Hailie's high voice], "Somebody please help me! I think my dad's gone crazy!"

Instantly that locked in with a beat we'd made the day before. I went to my house, and I had her go in the booth and say it. When she opens up, she's just like her dad in a lot of aspects. I just told her what to say and she nailed it, the first take. It almost was scary, to where I had to slow it down. I don't know if I wanna put her on any more songs. I don't wanna make her any more famous. She can live a life. She didn't choose to have her father become a rap star. Nor my niece, nor my brother. So they're able to go outside and live a normal life, go to stores and do things normally that I can't do. Which is why, a lot of times, certain things I can't be there for.

What about school events?

School is different. In school, when they have plays, field trips, all that stuff, I don't miss them, even if I gotta deal with the craziness. And the teachers are really good about telling the kids, "When Hailie's dad comes in, he's Hailie's dad, Mr. Mathers." Last year I went and read to the class. Two books. It was reading month or something.

There's a Hailie love song on this album.

Yeah, a song called "Mockingbird," to Hailie and Alaina. When Mom was on the run they didn't understand it, and I'm not the greatest talker in the world, especially when I'm trying to explain to two little girls what's goin' on with someone who's always been a part of their life and just disappeared. So that was my song to explain to them what was goin on, probably the most emotional song I ever wrote.

Michael Jackson called your mocking of him in the "Just Lose It" video "demeaning and insensitive." Are you picking on Mike?

I didn't do anything in the video that he hasn't said himself he does. With the little boys jumping on the bed and all that — they're just jumping on the bed. People can take what they wanna take, decipher it how they wanna decipher it. But it's not actually Michael Jackson, it's me playing Michael Jackson, studying the moves and doing the impressions. I don't have an opinion, really, neither here nor there, against Michael Jackson. When Thriller came out, you couldn't tell me nothin' about Michael: Dude was the ultimate, dude is a legend. But the allegations that are thrown at him and the seriousness of the case — the guy's jumping on top of his van dancing?

And showing up to court late.

I showed up to that motherfucker an hour early every morning. I'm not playing with court. And now I think my fans should rally around me for making fun of myself.

Paris Hilton is in the "Just Lose It" video. She seems like the sort of person you'd normally be dissing, not doing a video with.

Well, when I was on MTV with La La it kinda slipped out. La La said, "How did you manage to get Paris?" I said: "Well, I love Paris. I love her almost as much as she loves herself." Then I was like, "Damn, that was fucked up." I try not to attack people who haven't attacked me first. As far as the image she portrays right now, as far as the way my girls look at her, do I want them to grow up to be like that? No. But for a video, for entertainment, that's a different thing. The song is about goin' to the club and losin' it, and you get so drunk you say the wrong thing. And we needed somebody to punch me, slap me and pull my hair. Our first candidate was Jessica Alba. We couldn't get Jessica, and Paris happened to be in town.

There are two songs about Kim on Encore. In "Puke," you hate her so much she makes you want to vomit. Then in "Crazy in Love," you're like, "I hate you, yet I can't live without you."

It's a love-hate relationship, and it will always be that. We're talking about a woman who's been a part of my life since I can remember. She was thirteen when I met her. I was fifteen.

What was it like the first time you saw her?

I met her the day she got out of the youth home. I was at a friend's house, and his sister was friends with her, but she hadn't seen Kim in a while 'cause she was in the youth home. And I'm standing on the table with my shirt off, on top of their coffee table with a Kangol on, mocking the words to LL Cool J's "I'm Bad." And I turn around and she's at the door. Her friend hands her a cigarette. She's thirteen, she's taller than me, and she didn't look that young. She easily coulda been mistaken for sixteen, seventeen. I said to my friend's sister, "Yo, who was that? She's kinda hot." And the saga began. Now there's the constant struggle of "will I ever meet somebody else that's gonna be real with me, as real as I can say she's been with me?"

You get deep into your feelings about President Bush and Iraq on "Mosh." Do you think the war in Iraq was a mistake?

He's been painted to be this hero, and he's got our troops over there dying for no reason. I haven't heard an explanation yet that I can understand. Explain to us why we have troops over there dying.

There is no good answer.

I think he started a mess. America is the best country there is, the best country to live in. But he's fuckin' that up and could run our country into the ground. He jumped the gun, and he fucked up so bad he doesn't know what to do right now. He's in a tailspin, running around like a dog chasing its tail. And we got young people over there dyin', kids in their teens, early twenties, who should have futures ahead of them. And for what? It seems like a Vietnam 2. Bin Laden attacked us and we attacked Saddam. We ain't heard from Saddam for ten years, but we go attack Saddam. Explain why that is. Give us some answers.

Are you voting?

I'm supposed to hand my absentee ballot in today. I'm going for Kerry, man. I got a chance to watch one of the debates and a piece of another one. He was making Bush look stupid, but anybody can make Bush look stupid. I'm not 100 million percent on Kerry. I don't agree with everything he says, but I hope he's true to his word, especially about his plan to pull the troops out. I hope we can get Bush out of there, and I hope "Mosh" wasn't too little, too late. That can sway some of the voters or open people's minds and eyes up to see this dude. I don't wanna see my little brother get drafted. He just turned eighteen. I don't want to see him get drafted and lose his life. People think their votes don't count, but people need to get out and vote. Every motherfuckin' vote counts.

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