Eminem Tells Kxng Crooked About His Deep Love For The Craft Of Rapping (Video)
“What I would say to any up-and-coming rapper? I would say that it is hard to get it, and it’s even harder to maintain it.” Eminem shares those words in the closing minutes of a one-hour-plus interview with Kxng Crooked on Crook’s Corner. The video interview takes place in Dr. Dre’s recording studios.
Eminem is at an interesting juncture in his career. Widely revered as one of the greatest MCs of all-time (and the winner of one such reader competition at Ambrosia For Heads in 2015), Eminem has released three albums in less than three years. His most recent, Music To Be Murdered By, arrived one month ago—without warning. That LP, in part, deals with criticism—which Marshall Mathers gets a lot of. The Detroit, Michigan MC/producer has always been the target of criticism. In the early years, that push-back seemingly came from outside the culture—save for a few Rap opponents. Since 2017, a self-aware Eminem has gotten challenged by some of his peers, including former artists and collaborators, as well as MCs that Slim Shady grew up admiring.
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Sitting down with Crooked I (who appears on the new album), Eminem’s mood is quite different than his late 2018 interview with Sway Calloway. Names like Joe Budden, MGK, and even Lord Jamar—who is only alluded to—are never mentioned. In one lucid moment towards the end of the interview, Eminem admits to Crook’ that he’s never happy—after the host asks the guest a question submitted by many fans. Before expounding, Eminem changes the subject back to Hip-Hop.
While Eminem’s interview series in ’18 was largely about controversies in the lyrics, this one is about his love of the game. Em shows a profound respect for Crooked I, including quoting some of his lyrics from memory. He often lumps Crook’ and Royce 5’9 (who released his album The Allegory today) together, as MCs who inspire him. Eminem also makes a point to big up Tech N9ne’s songwriting and rhyme schemes. In another section, Crooked I asks Em about Naughty By Nature’s Treach. Marshall Mathers goes to the mat in praise of Treach’s evolving style between 1991 and 1995. He recites several verses off of memory, and argues that the East Orange, New Jersey veteran influenced all the artists around him. Marshall admits to copying elements of Trigga Treach’s style, as well as Kool G Rap and others, early in his development.
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Eminem weighs in on best MC lists and explains why some people may not understand the complexity in Hip-Hop that he likes. Crooked I illustrates this point in many places, arguing on behalf of Em, both as an MC, as well as a producer/rapper double-threat.
Eminem also spends time describing Redman’s place as the best in Rap on 1996’s Muddy Waters. He also praises Whut? Thee Album. Em remembers playing one of his 2000s albums for LL Cool J in a ride-around, and how that experience impacted him. He also big-ups Royce’s production, and remembers his own journey into making beats amid superstardom.
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However, Eminem also pays great compliments to Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, adding that they—as well as Joyner Lucas would be on a version of his “Til I Collapse” best MCs list. He also singles out Young M.A., YBN Cordae, and the late Juice WRLD as supreme talents. It’s clear that Eminem is paying attention to the greater Hip-Hop conversation.
Throughout the hour, Eminem highlights a few spots on his new album. He describes going through Royce to bring Black Thought on board, following a longtime plan. Em defends his point about gun control from video single “Darkness.” He also recalls that Dr. Dre had initially made a beat based on Alfred Hitchcock’s Music To Be Murdered By album years ago. Recalling the rough draft, Em brought it up to Dre, who suggested some additional sources of muse for the Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records album.