Eminem Talks Bullying, Sobriety, Rhyming Process On '60 Minutes'
As the introduction for Eminem'sÂ "60 Minutes" interview noted, the MC's rise to prominence transcends the hip-hop genre.
His story has always been a point of fascination to his millions of fans but the famously private lyricist has been guarded about his personal life. However, in the sit-down, which aired Sunday (October 9), the rap superstar gave fans a glimpse of the man behind the music.
With news anchor Anderson Cooper in tow, Em took viewers on a tour of the Detroit neighborhood where he grew up, along the city's tough 8 Mile road, and opened up about his childhood, his lyrical process, his parenting strategies and the triumphant recovery from one of the lowest periods of his life.
Drawing on his years of experience as a top-flight wordsmith, Eminem took a stab at debunking some popularly-held beliefs about the boundaries of the English language while chopping it up with Cooper in his personal recording studio.
"People say that the word orange doesn't rhyme with anything and that kind of pisses me off because I can think of a lot of things that rhyme with orange," Eminem said, explaining that he plays with the enunciation of his words to make rhymes fit together, tossing out examples like "storage," and "porridge" to prove his point.
Em, who repeated ninth grade three times before quitting school altogether, said that despite his poor marks he was always good at English, and copped to trolling the dictionary for new words to keep in his lyrical arsenal. The MC also revealed how he stores many of his rhymes, opening a large box teeming with scraps of paper covered in scrawled lyrics.
Although the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum MC has captivated the ears of listeners around the world with his rhymes – breaking records and changing the face of hip-hop in the process – Em admitted that he was the target of schoolyard taunts as a kid.
"I would change schools two, three times a year and that was probably the roughest part," he confided about moving often due to an unstable childhood. "[I got] beat up in the bathroom, beat up in the hallways, shoved in the lockers, just, for the most part, being the new kid."
Later, he found solace in hip-hop and his ability to spit, despite his tough upbringing and status as the lone white kid in the underground rap haunts he once frequented.
"Hip-hop has always been about bragging and boasting and 'I'm better than you at this and I'm better than you at that,' " Em said."This kid over here, he may have more chicks or he may have better clothes or whatever but he can't do this like me. He can't write what I'm writing right now."
Em also admitted that his race did make things harder when he was working the underground circuit.
"There was certainly a rebellious youthful rage ... in me ... and the no-getting-away-from fact that I am white and this is predominantly black music and people [are] telling me, 'You don't belong and you're not gonna succeed because you're this color,' " Em said. "Then you want to show those people that you can and you will."
Em also said he believes race may have been an issue in terms of the criticism he has endured for his lyrics. Explaining that anti-gay slurs were cavalierly dropped in the hip-hop scene he came up in and citing the frequent use of offensive language by many other high-profile spitters, he said he felt targeted because he is white.
"I felt like I was being attacked. I was being singled out and I felt like, 'Is it because of the color of my skin? Is it because of that you're paying more attention?' " he said. "Because there's certain rappers that do and say the same things and I'm saying and I don't hear anyone saying [anything] about that."
Although Em's strained relationship with his mother has been a popular topic in his music, the Detroit MC has not often discussed his father, who left him when he was a baby. However, the "Not Afraid" lyricist said he doesn't have a strong desire to build a connection with his dad.
"If my kids move to the edge of the earth, I'd find them," he said. "No doubt in my mind. No money, no nothing. If I had nothing, I'd find my kids. So, there's no excuse."
The MC is protective of his own children, and although he spits harsh lines on his chart-topping albums, he revealed he doesn't allow vulgar language at home.
"I'm a parent; I have daughters," Em explained. "I mean, how would I really sound as a person like walking around my house [saying] 'Bitch, pick this up!' Profanity around my house, no."
Em also talked about being two hours away from death when he overdosed years ago and revealed that his Detroit Home and Home Tour stop with Jay-Z was the first stadium show he ever played sober. He also admitted that the rush of being onstage and feeling the love from fans never gets old.
"An artist can say that they get used to it but I think that they're probably lying if they do," Em said. " 'Cause you gotta be wowed, you gotta be taken back by seeing this many people and their faces."