The Real Slim Shady - What People Have Said About Working With Eminem
Vote up the quotes about Eminem that aren't Shady at all.
For decades, Eminem has entertained fans with his music as well as appeared in movies and on television. His personal life has been the stuff of media headlines, but he's persevered through the ups and the downs.
Eminem is known for his fast-rapping, quick-rhyming, and beef-starting lyrics, as well as multiple names. Honestly, he seems pretty intimidating. Or he did.
When we looked at what some of his collaborators, colleagues, and co-stars have said about him, he doesn't seem so scary. In fact, Eminem was actually really full of surprises, thanks to these insights. Take a look and vote up the ones that make you think, “Huh, he's not-so-Shady after all.”
- Photo: david_hwang / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0
Dr. Dre is credited with mainstreaming Eminem, something he was discouraged from doing. Dr. Dre discovered Eminem thanks to mutual associate Jimmy Iovine. Iovine heard Eminem's music and passed it along to Dr. Dre - who told Iovine, “Find him. Now.”
Iovine did find Eminem, and when they first met, Dr. Dre recalled:
Eminem comes in in this bright yellow f*cking sweatsuit, hoodie, pants, everything… it’s bright f*cking yellow, and I’m like, ”Wow."
The clothes didn't deter him, but some of Dr. Dre's colleagues tried to. In 2023, Dr. Dre admitted the criticism he faced for signing a white rapper:
My gut told me Eminem was the artist that I’m supposed to be working with right now. But I didn’t know how many racists I had around me. The so-called execs and what have you were all against it.
In fact, Dr. Dre had very different thoughts about the color of Eminem's skin:
I didn't even know he was white when I heard the demo. Jimmy Iovine told me a little later. Then my wheels started turning. I thought he would be able to get away with saying a lot more than I would get away with saying. If a Black guy said that stuff, people would turn the radio off. That's reality.
- Photo: Ernst Vikne / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 2.02961 VOTES
Elton John has been one of the most supportive people in Eminem's professional life. They first met when John sang “Stan” with Eminem at the 2001 Grammys.
That performance was not without controversy. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a statement at the time:
[We are] appalled that John would share the stage with Eminem, whose words and actions promote hate and violence… We were all flabbergasted that [John] would do this.
John chose to emphasize building friendships rather than tearing down others and also indicated that he didn't think Eminem was hateful at all.
The two remained friends, and when Eminem wanted to stop using drugs during the late 2000s, he called John. When asked about their usual friendship on The Graham Norton Show, John had this to say:
He was accused of being homophobic by so many people because of his lyrics… which I thought was nonsense. I came out and supported the fact that he isn’t…
He’s an amazing guy… I just adore him.
John continued with a story about a gift he received from Eminem after he entered into a civil partnership with David Furnish in 2005:
I got this package from Eminem… and it shows you how homophobic he isn’t… We had two diamond-encrusted c**k rings on velvet cushions.
In his memoir, Me, John also talks about being “Eminem's AA sponsor. Whenever I ring to check in on him, he always greets me the same way: ‘Hello, you c*nt,’ which I guess is very Eminem.”
Ed Sheeran and Eminem have appeared on each other's albums and taken the stage together for years. “River,” a song penned by Sheeran, appeared on Eminem's 2017 Revival album and helped set the foundation for their friendship and future projects.
According to Sheeran, the story behind “River” is pretty star-studded:
I sound like such a c**t name-dropping, but I was traveling Australia, and Russell Crowe has a house, this big farm… I get an email from Paul Rosenberg, Eminem’s manager, and he said, "We’re gonna start putting the album together, send any ideas." So I used the studio at Russell’s house… played the drums on it, and then played the guitar, and then recorded the thing and wrote the chorus and did the piano on it, and then sent it off and then didn’t hear anything back. This was like March 2016.
Sheeran didn't meet Eminem until more than a year later, by which time the rapper had already recorded some of the lyrics. Sheeran was nervous to meet Eminem, given that he credits Eminem with indirectly curing his childhood stutter. Sheeran revealed while on The Howard Stern Show:
I was going through all sorts of speech therapy and when I was nine, my uncle bought me the Marshall Mathers LP, and he just said to my dad “This guy’s the next Bob Dylan and you’ve gotta let him listen.” My dad didn’t really clock it. He was just like, “Okay Ed’s going to go listen to that.” And by learning that record, rapping back to back to back to back, it cured my stutter.
Once they did finally meet, Sheeran found Eminem to be “such a sweet, talented guy.”
With that connection, Sheeran found a new collaborator as well as a bit of a mentor. In 2021, Sheeran talked about what he learned from Eminem while recording music together in Detroit. Sheeran thought it would be nighttime sessions but was introduced to quite the opposite:
I remember going to work with Eminem in Detroit and he was like, “No, bro, I get in 9:00 am and leave at 5:00. I can go out to dinner and hang out with my kids.”
Sheeran was on board with the plan and continues to find benefits - and inspiration - from keeping that schedule.
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Rihanna marvels at how the rapper's mind works. When asked about their multiple collaborations in 2013, Rihanna told Complex Media's Soo-Young Kim:
The moment I worked with him on “Love the Way You Lie,” I wanted to work with him again, and we did “Love the Way You Lie Part 2.” And then I wanted to work with him again. [Laughs.] I just love working with Eminem. He’s just one of my favorite rappers, and his lyrics - he’s a true poet, and I enjoy that about him.
She talked specifically about their work together on the song “Numb,” explaining:
I needed someone with not only his skill, but his personality. And I needed someone who really understands the perspective and the metaphor in the song of going numb and being numb to everything around and to say, “F*ck you.” Eminem is definitely the perfect guy for that.
Rihanna put her appreciation for Eminem another way when speaking with MTV's Sway:
Something is wrong with Eminem. I mean, he was so much in his mind that I almost feel lucky for him that he has music. I feel like he has so much in his head that music is such a good release for him.
According to Dido, she'd never met Eminem when “I got this letter of the blue one day… it said, 'We like your album. We've used this track. Hope you don't mind, and hope you like it.'”
The letter was from Eminem, and Dido thought his sample of her song “Thank You” for his 2000 hit “Stan” was “amazing.” At first, Dido wasn't entirely sure how Eminem came across her song:
I've heard two different stories: One, that his engineer brought it to him, and the other is, and I know for a fact, that [producer] Mark The 45 King had “Thank You” on one of his mixtapes.
The latter was later revealed to be true.
Dido and Eminem did eventually come face to face, notably when the songstress appeared in the video for “Stan.” Dido also showed up on stage with Eminem on occasion and the two became friends. Their friendship wasn't why, in 2011, Dido named her son “Stan.” Dido recalled:
When I was a teenager, I was with my mate. I remember sitting on a wall, and they were like, “What are you going to call your kid?” and I was like, “Stanley.”
Bizarrely, when I met my husband, that was the name that was his favourite for different reasons.
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Eminem and 50 Cent have a long history, something they both attest to. In fact, their connection continues to find new depths since they were in talks to develop an 8 Mile television show in early 2023. What that show could potentially make in revenue may not quite equate to what 50 Cent said Eminem cost him in 2020.
After the Super Bowl halftime show that featured Eminem, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and Snoop Dogg aired in 2022, there was interest in having a comparable show at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Eminem, however, wasn't interested.
50 Cent talked about what happened in January 2023:
Because of the Super Bowl, I got an inquiry about World Cup and they had a budget of $9 million… I would've taken one [million] and then the other eight [million] would have been for [Eminem].
Eminem's representatives told 50 Cent it wasn't going to happen. There was no reason given, but speculation exists that it might have had something to do with human rights concerns around the event.