It’s only right that for XXL’s milestone birthday, a self-proclaimed “Rap God” joins the celebration. The 25th anniversary of XXL features Eminem taking a look back at his momentous career. For the magazine’s fall issue, which marks his ninth cover with XXL, Em’s cover story is in his own words. He shares the ups and downs of his journey, how meeting his rap heroes impacted him, his battle with addiction, the role he plays in today’s hip-hop, looking to the younger generation for inspiration and more.
On Meeting Dr. Dre and Making The Slim Shady LP:
“I remember saying, ‘If I could just get with Dre, man, my God that’d be so crazy. He’s so fuckin’ ill.’ Three weeks later, I was at Dre’s house. We made The Slim Shady LP. That was a fun album to make, but it’s also where everything suddenly changed. One of those changes was that drugs became a part of the way I was living my life once I got signed.”
On Eminem’s Role in Today’s Hip-Hop:
“My role in today’s hip-hop is to always try to be the best rapper. That’s it. That’s how I want to feel inside. That’s what I want to feel. And I can’t do that until I listen to what the fuck J. Cole just put out. What the fuck did Kendrick just put out? And I’m thinking, Oh, these dudes ain’t playing. I don’t want to get swept away in that shuffle. I still want to let everybody know who the fuck I am. Like I said, ‘They rap to be the best rappers.’ I’ll hear some shit by them, and I’ll be like, Yo, I ain’t the best rapper right now. I need to fuckin’ get up, get back on my shit.”
On Looking to the Younger Generation of Artists:
“I want to do things that nobody from this point on can ever top. Rap to a level that no one else could get to. And again, it’s subjective, and every rapper, especially rappers in competitive rap, wants to be the best rapper. So, I look for the younger generation to push me. I don’t have to make albums. I don’t have to do anything at this point. It’s about wanting to, and that’s never changed for me no matter what level the fame’s gotten to. I still love to rap. It’s always been the most important thing to me. I still have fun writing.”
On When Eminem’s Addiction Got Bad:
“I was able to downplay my addiction and hide it for a while until it got really bad. And also, at that time, so much shit was happening with the whole 50 beef with Ja Rule. We started feuding, going back-and-forth, and I’m making all of these diss records and shit. So, I’m coming off The Marshall Mathers LP and going into Encore when my addiction started to get bad. I was taking Vicodin, Valium and alcohol. I kinda fell off the map a little bit and didn’t explain why I went away. I remember things started getting really, really bad when me, 50 and G-Unit did BET’s 106 & Park. We performed ‘You Don’t Know’ on the show and then we did an interview afterward. That’s when the wheels started coming off. One of the hosts was talking to me and I could not understand a word she was saying. 50 had to cover for me and answer every question.”
On the Encore Album Being a Misstep:
“[Encore] became a misstep and I struggled to get over the fact that I didn’t do my best. My best would’ve been good enough if the leaks hadn’t happened. But I released what I had at that point in time, and I feel that put a kind of a mark on my catalog. Encore did some decent numbers, but I was never that concerned with numbers. I was more so worried about what people think about the album. Critics and fans were important to me, and they were always at me about that project.”
In addition to Em’s story, check out other interviews in the magazine with Yung Miami, Bobby Shmurda, JID, GloRilla, Yvngxchris, Sleazyworld Go, Styles P, Jim Jones, Symba, Reason, singer Jessie Reyez, actor Trevante Rhodes and music executive Katina Bynum. The issue also includes a deep dive into rappers’ longstanding connection to anime, a look into the U.S. court systems battle against rap lyrics, the renewed interest music supervisors have in placing 1990’s hip-hop in today’s lauded TV series and and the 254 past covers in XXL history.