This weekend, Eminem fueled the fire for Marshall Mathers LP 2 with an unexpected collaboration. A snippet of “Don’t Front” featuring Buckshot shows Em spitting venomous rhymes over the bassline-driven instrumental. The song pays homage to Black Moon’s “I Got Cha Opin,” which originally had Buckshot doing verbal acrobatics for three verses straight. While many sources indicated that Em sampled the song, he actually called up Buck and Duck Down Records co-founder Dru Ha personally to fly them over to Detroit. With two of hip-hop’s decorated MCs coming together for the first time, it was a blessing in disguise.
The full version will have two additional verses by Eminem and will be accessible by purchasing Call Of Duty: Ghosts at Gamestop. We spoke with Buckshot about the bonus track, where he talks about capturing the same feel of his vocals from 20 years ago, Eminem as a producer, and how hip-hop is re-entering its cypher era. —Eric Diep
XXL: How did Eminem approach you?
Buckshot: Dru and Em go back. Em called Dru and asked if I could fly out. He called and he said, “Yo, could you fly out to Detroit to do this hook for me?” Dru was like, “What are you talking about? What’s up?” [He was like,] “Well, I re-did ‘I Got Cha Opin’.” I did the original off the album and I did it to the point where you would think this shit is a sample. No. That whole shit is live. None of that is a sample [Laughs]. It’s mind-boggling. I’ve never seen that done before ever in my life. I’ve been in hip-hop for a minute and I never in my life ever seen anybody make a song come so close to the sample. I would pay $1,000 and bet $1,000 if somebody said, “Which one is the sample?” There’s no way Em did not sample the whole shit. It’s impossible.
He produced and he built the record from the ground up in front of you?
Yeah. Em is an ill producer. I don’t know what people think about that, but Em is an ill producer. I’m not talking about producing a beat and him behind a board and making sure it sounds the way you like it. I mean, he’s really to the core, to the bone producer. He was basically saying, “Can you get it with the same exact delivery, tone, hype, flow, feeling, everything?” It might be just one word. It might just be the word “Ah.” Instead of me saying “Ah” like I might normally say it. I usually would say it like that. He was like, “Can you accentuate?” It’s not a word I use and I heard a lot of words before. He kept saying it a few times. And I said, “Yo, he keeps saying that word.” I was like, “He really wants it down to the bone.”
The title of the track that’s going around the Internet is called “Don’t Front.”
Again, for him to do that was a beautiful blessing. I just happen to fall under a certain series of events of things that kind of went on in the past couple of months. It would only take a person who is really smart and that type who can put things together. I did the thing with Joey Bada$$. Prior to that, about his response on the “Control” record because of all the stuff that was going on after the “Control” thing. I think I was mentioned somehow, someway, somewhere around that atmosphere. Something else that brought me to that atmosphere I couldn’t really remember before Joey. And then after Joey, I was listening to the radio and I hear Cassidy going in on the “Control” verse to how many MCs? I felt that was even funnier because me and Cassidy was real cool too. It was just funny that these things were popping up out of nowhere.
And then this Em thing…
The thing about the Em thing is—and the reason why I mention the relevance to Kendrick Lamar and the “Control” verse and the whole reintroduction to what we call the cypher element of hip-hop—it just seems Eminem’s timing of dropping an album happened to be perfect with the cypher climate. The only weird thing about it was, again, I didn’t even really get the chance to hear the whole album. When I heard the record—not only was I blown away—but I was like, it is funny how there’s that ["Don't Front"] record, that whole element is based around the cypher. The timing of the universe is just bugged. When it comes to lyrics, backpack or whatever you want to call the whole science of the cypher—the cypher is like the boxing ring. If you’re an MC, people are saying that you are fighting with words. Or those are fighting words. That’s because words are weapons. If you hit the ring and you can’t… what happens to any warrior who doesn’t know how to use a sword? You’re gonna get slayed.
It’s funny you mention being a boxer in a ring. In Em’s verse on “Don’t Front,” he talks about that.
I think what’s even funnier… I’m like, “Wow that’s funny because people haven’t heard the whole record.” Obviously, I did the record with him so I heard the whole record. That’s not even the tip of the iceberg, man. What he is saying in that verse, it’s not even the tip of the fucking iceberg.
Do you think your fans will see a verse from you on it?
Unfortunately, I’m not on a verse. Like I said, a lot of people probably figured it’s a feature from Buckshot [because] I’m on there. But, I think it’s kind of cool too that Em’s version is featuring me actually coming in and working on a record with him right there. Everything that you hear on that record as far as choruses and background and stuff like that. Whatever it is, it’s me today. I think it was cool because his intent was to go in and add on to the record. He was probably sitting somewhere one day and the record hit him whatever way. Some people just have that vibe like, “Yo man, I want to do this.”