Before unleashing Revival, Eminem gets thoughtful on the cover of Interview magazine’s December 2017/January 2018 issue. Behind the pensive Craig McDean-shot cover, Marshall Mathers speaks with mentor Elton John about a variety of topics, including sobriety, rap, and Revival.
During the insightful Q&A, Slim Shady reveals that Revival is set to be filled with diversity. “I’ve been working on it for over a year,” he says. “You know how it is—you make songs, and as you make the new ones, the old ones get old and you throw them out. The album is called Revival. It’s a reflection of where I’m at right now, but also I feel like what I tried to do was diversify. I’ve tried to make a little something for everyone.”
The album, due Dec. 15, is set to feature appearances from a wide range of artists, including Ed Sheeran (“River”), Alicia Keys (“Like Home”), X Ambassadors (“Bad Husband”), Skylar Grey (“Tragic Endings”), Kehlani (“Nowhere Fast”), Pink (“Need Me”), and PHresher (“Chloraseptic”).
When asked about his favorite MCs today, Em names J. Cole, Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Royce da 5’9, Joyner Lucas, and Tech N9ne. Of the latter, Elton says he’s a fan, as well. In fact, John reveals that he’s miffed at those who knock hip-hop.
“I always say to people, ‘If you don’t understand hip-hop, you just have to see it being recorded.’ When you’re in the studio—and I’ve seen you record, I’ve been on Kanye West and A Tribe Called Quest records—it’s a completely different ballgame,” he explains. “I get upset when people knock it, because I can absolutely see the musicality in it. These days, when I’m listening to records by hip-hop artists, I hear the production. It’s just astounding how great the productions have become.”
Read additional quotes from the interview below.
On Sobriety: “Getting clean made me grow up. I feel like all the years that I was using, I wasn’t growing as a person.”
On Meeting Dr. Dre: “I remember one of the first times I went out to L.A. I met Dre and Jimmy [Iovine] at Interscope, and it felt so ridiculous and so far-fetched that this was happening. When Dre walked in, it was like an out-of-body experience. Nothing in my life had been going right for me, but he put me up in the Oakwood apartments and paid my rent so I could record with him. There was a period when I stayed up writing for 48 hours straight and ended up crashing at, like, six in the morning. I wanted to be prepared for Dre because I thought, ‘If I’m not ready for every aspect of this, this could be it for me.’”
On Dre’s Best Advice: “When I first got signed to Aftermath, we had many discussions about how I wanted to bring in my group D12 and put them on right away. Dre said, ‘You’ve gotta build your house before you can let your friends come in,’ and it made so much sense to me. In hindsight, waiting was probably better because eventually we got Shady Records and were able to sign them to it. He also used to say, ‘It can be in bad taste as long as it don’t taste bad.’”
On Regrets: “There are ups and downs. I haven’t had a perfect career. I’ve put some albums out that, looking back, I’m not super proud of, but there’s also a lot of stuff that I am very proud of.”
On His Anti-Donald Trump Freestyle: “I wrote it. The original idea was for me to go to the BET Awards and do it acapella onstage. I went home that same day and wrote it all, but then at the last minute, plans got switched around and we filmed it in Detroit. One of the things we were trying to mimic was Public Enemy’s ‘You’re Gonna Get Yours’ cover. I don’t know if anybody got that, but that’s kind of the feel that we were going for. My main concern was trying to get the message out and also memorize all the words. I have a hard time memorizing stuff. I’m always in the process of writing a new song, so trying to learn a new one takes a minute.”
On Injustice: “It was about having the right to stand up to oppression. I mean, that’s exactly what the people in the military and the people who have given their lives for this country have fought for–for everybody to have a voice and to protest injustices and speak out against shit that’s wrong. We’re not trying to disrespect the military, we’re not trying to disrespect the flag, we’re not trying to disrespect our country. But shit is going on that we want to make you aware of. We have a president who does not care about everybody in our country; he is not the president for all of us, he is the president for some of us. He knows what he’s doing. As long as he’s got his base, he does not give a fuck about anybody else in America. But guess what? There’s more of us than there are of them. I still feel like America is the greatest country to live in. This is my opinion. But we have issues that we need to work on and we need to do better.”
On Manager Paul Rosenberg: “He and I go at it during the making of every album, and sometimes we’re on the same page and sometimes we’re not. He’s usually right about it, though. It’s just hard when you’ve spent so much time on something, writing and recording, laying the vocals, getting the hook right, getting the beat right, making everything sound right–you spent a freaking week trying to make it sound perfect, and someone comes along and shoots it down…He usually ends up being right. When I played him ‘Not Afraid’ for the first time, he wasn’t too fond of it. Then we had a conversation a few days later, and he was like, ‘Do you think it needs a bridge?’ And I was like, ‘I knew you were going to say that.’”