Freestyle Aside, Eminem Dropped “Infinite” Jewels On Sway (Audio)
Last week, Eminem stormed the Sway In The Morning show, throwing Southpaw promotion, and delivering one T.K.O. of a freestyle. However, there was a whole hour of the diamond-certified-selling MC at Sway, and Heads may have missed the rare interview. What makes the interview especially notable is the superstar went back to his late 1990s days, making his self-released Infinite album, and struggling like so many hungry rappers today.
Joined by 18-year manager and friend Paul Rosenberg, as well as Shade 45’s Lord Sear (another Em’ affiliate and early supporter since the ’90s), the four old friends present an interview and radio show that is funny, informative, and promotional all at once.
As Goliath Management/Shady Records’ Paul Rosenberg recalls his days is a Detroit, Michigan Rap group named Rhyme Cartel, the history between he and his legendary client is unfolded. Proof, Denaun Porter (a/k/a Mr. Porter) and J Dilla are part of the story too, showing how close-knit the Motor City community really was circa 1996-1997.
Eminem remembers traveling around The D with Proof, with a trunk full of cassettes. That cassette was November, 1996’s Infinite LP, which featured Proof, Mr. Porter, and DJ Head, among others. “Sometimes Denaun would go with me. We would drive everywhere to try and sell, and sometimes give away tapes. When we first put [Infinite] out.” Despite the album’s cult popularity 18-plus years later, Eminem says it was not a success early on. “At a certain point it got to, ‘we’re not sellin’ any of these, so let’s just give ’em out.'” He adds, “The response to Infinite wasn’t good…it was mixed.”
Notably, that album draws vocal comparisons to The Firm’s Nas and AZ, both of whom Em’ cites as influences. “I was a super fan of Nas—still am—and AZ, and got a lot of those comparisons. It was super flattering, but at the same time, [discouraging].” It would not be until the Porter-produced “Just Don’t Give A Fuck” that Slim Shady was born, helping Eminem find his most original pocket. “It took me a minute.”
Eminem then recalled Proof shopping an album with Tommy Boy Records. At the time, this would have made Eminem’s close friend and collaborator label-mates with De La Soul, Digital Underground, and Coolio, among others. However, despite a demo heavily produced by Slum Village’s Jay Dee (n/k/a J Dilla), the meeting apparently did not go as planned. “The wind was out of his sails. Something happened at that meeting,” remembers Em’, who never got a formal explanation as to what was said. Proof, however, urged Eminem and others, to form the basis of what would become D12. “We need to click-up,” Em’ recalls Proof saying. “When we’re in this group, we’re gonna say the shit that we would never say as [solo artists].” As Marshall remembers the breakthrough recording into this Slim Shady style was the demo version of the aforementioned “Just Don’t A Give A Fuck.”
Following a musical break, the interview continues. (18:00) Eminem reacts to his second diamond-certified single, and explains how his mid-2000s prescription drug addiction halted his creativity. “I just couldn’t write anymore.” Lord Sear joins Sway in asking Em’ a few questions. The MC reveals that freestyling prompts many of what have become seminal songs. He admits that in his 20-plus-year career, MC’ing has never taken a back-seat to production.
Asked about top producers, Eminem points to his team. DJ Khalil, Denaun Porter, Just Blaze, Boi-1da, and Alchemist are mentioned. Rosenberg drops in Dre, as Eminem jokingly interprets the answer to point to Ed Lover’s longtime MTV/radio partner, Doctor Dré. These moments, as throughout the hour, call attention to Eminem’s off-record sense of humor. Sear, Paul, and Eminem are lovers of pranks and sarcasm.
The interview closes with Eminem tackling some social media-generated questions. Will he tour? What’s his acting method? These questions are answered, before the iconic MC eventually tears into his ear-grabbing freestyle.